He has played for some of the world’s biggest clubs, now Julio Baptista is eyeing silverware with MLS outfit Orlando City.
After making a name for himself with Sevilla, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Roma and Malaga, Baptista – nicknamed ‘The Beast’ – decided to make the move to the United States in March.
The 34-year-old former Brazil international joined the ever-growing MLS at a time when countryman and Orlando team-mate Kaka, Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Nigel de Jong, Ashley Cole and Sebastian Giovinco all call the league home.
Baptista has already scored two goals in Orlando colours, including a stunning late volley in the 2-2 draw against San Jose Earthquakes last week, and the 2008 La Liga winner loves what he is seeing in Orlando, comparing training standards to that seen in Europe.
“We have a beautiful stadium and our fans are unbelievable,” Baptista told Omnisport, having arrived from Brazilian side Cruzeiro.
“They attend every game. It’s been great here in Orlando.
“I’m very happy. I’ve been adapting very well here.
“After going through a lot of clubs, it’s easier to adapt.
“My family has just got here, so that helps a lot. And training here is similar to Europe.”
Baptista played another key role in Orlando’s dramatic 3-2 win over Toronto FC on Saturday.
The veteran drew a penalty in the 98th minute and Kaka converted emphatically two minutes later to give hosts Orlando the latest of wins in front of 27,818 fans at Camping World Stadium.
Orlando’s victory, which extended their unbeaten run in MLS to five games, elevated the club up to sixth in the Eastern Conference, the final play-off spot.
And after missing the post-season by just five points in their inaugural campaign last year, Baptista insists: “We need to reach play-offs, that’s our main goal.
“Last year, the team were very close. We need to be intelligent and start collecting the crucial points now.”
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