Eero Markkanen was a member of Real Madrid. (Photo courtesy of Orange County SC)

IRVINE, Calif. – Orange County SC announced Friday that Finnish internatonal forward Eero Markkanen will join the USL Championship team.

Pending league and federation approval, the 6-6 Markkanen will be the fifth addition and the third player from the Finnish Premier League – Veikkausliiga – to join Orange County SC this offseason.

“We are ecstatic to welcome Eero to Orange County and adding a player with such pedigree is a massive signing for our club and fans!” OCSC president of soccer operations Oliver Wyss said in a statement. “Eero’s dominant presence and experience with the Finnish National Team and Real Madrid will have a significant influence on our team, both on and off the field!”

Markkanen, 29, appeared in 25 matches (19 starts) for FC Haka during the shortened 2020 season, tallying seven goals and two assists. Markkanen led the first-tier Finnish club in goals scored.

In July 2014, Real Madrid signed Markkanen. He was selected for the La Liga side’s 25-man roster for the UEFA Champions League. Markkanen made 10 appearances (five starts) on Real Madrid’s reserve squad tallying two goals and one assist.

Markkanen’s most successful spell was with AIK Fotball in Sweden’s top-flight league, Allsvenskan. Markkanen signed with AIK in 2014 and appeared in 66 matches for Stockholm’s most successful club, accumulating 22 goals and six assists over four seasons.

Since 2014, Markkanen also has been a consistent part of the Finland national team, making 18 appearances. In 2016, Markkanen made his World Cup qualification match debut. He scored his first internatonal goal in 2019.

“I think the fans of Orange County are going to be very excited with the addition of Eero,” OCSC head coach Braeden Cloutier said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of international experience that is only matched by a few in this league. He is a big, strong central forward that can hold it up, link it, and score goals!”

Eero Markkanen’s move to the states comes with some familiarity as he has often visited his younger brother and one of the NBA’s rising stars, Lauri Markkanen. Lauri played college ball for the the University of Arizona and has played three seasons with the Chicago Bulls. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie first team in 2018.

“I’m very happy to join Orange County and I’m looking forward to next season. Can’t wait to meet my teammates and get to work,” Markkanen said in a statement.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at