One of the perennial powers in the USL Championship, Orange County SC narrowly missed the 2020 postseason while scoring the 7th-fewest goals in the league. Ahead of the 2021 season, OC added a proven player in the attack with veteran Finnish striker, Eero Markkanen, to help bolster their goal-scoring group.
Across his professional career thus far, the 29-year-old forward has been a part of clubs in countries like his native Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Spain, where he was a member of Real Madrid. “It has been an interesting journey with a lot of ups and downs,” Markkanen said. He added that he’s had the chance to enjoy different cultures and that the food in Spain was the best in his professional soccer stops.
On the international soccer stage, Eero has nearly 20 caps for the Finnish national team, most recently appearing in a pair of friendlies in January 2019. “Representing my country was always a dream of mine so putting on the national team jersey was always a great honor,” he explained.
Finland was able to qualify for EURO 2020, the first-ever major tournament qualification for the country’s men’s team. Markkanen said, “If I’d get the chance to be at Finland’s first ever international tournament I would be extremely happy.”
While Eero has blazed his path on the soccer pitch, basketball is actually the sport of choice for the Markkanen family. His parents and brother, Miikka, played professionally overseas and his younger brother, Lauri, is currently a star for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. Eero said his basketball experience was limited to games in the family’s backyard.
He explained that he and Lauri competed in every sport you can imagine. But, when it comes to something outside of sports that he has the edge on, Eero said he’s better at cooking while acknowledging that Lauri is superior at video games.
The Finnisher is repping his brother’s soccer jersey to the Arena Ciudad de México 💯 pic.twitter.com/8ETsKFL9dU
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 13, 2018
Now, Eero joins his younger brother as a professional athlete in the United States. He said, “I’ve wanted to play in the United States for a long time, and now I got the chance to do so. I only heard good things about Orange County SC so it was an easy choice.”
With a lengthy professional career already under his belt, how motivated is the 6’6” Markkanen to prove that he still has what it takes to be a consistent goalscorer as he arrives in SoCal? “Very motivated,” Markkanen answered. “I feel like my playing style will fit well there and I know I’m capable of scoring from the chances I get.”