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2018 Orlando City Season in Review: PC

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Victor “PC” Giro was signed by Orlando City in January of 2017 on a four-year deal. In his first season with the Lions, PC was used sparingly, appearing in eight games (five starts) in 2017 and spending a good chunk of the season with OCB.

Beginning the season as an attacking midfielder, PC wasted no time in drawing the ire of Orlando City fans, getting sent off for a wayward elbow in the opening match against D.C. United. He was used both in the midfield and at fullback in 2018, but never really found a home and could get no consistent minutes, meaning every rust-laden mistake was magnified and he became a popular pariah for Lion Nation.

How did his 2018 season stack up against the rating of 4.5 that we gave him last year? Let’s take a look.

Statistical Breakdown

The Sao Paulo native returned in 2018 on the second year of his deal and ended up again making eight appearances in MLS play with five starts, although this time around he did not have OCB games as the squad was on hiatus for the season. He played 418 MLS minutes this season, compared to 436 in 2017. His biggest improvement was likely going from a 72.7% passing percentage last year to 85% in 2018. PC failed to record a goal or an assist, attempting six shots (compared to three last year), but only getting one on target (0 in 2017). So, there were definite signs of improvement in some areas of his game.

Defensively, he averaged 1.6 tackles, 1.8 clearances, an interception, and 0.3 blocked shots per game. Those numbers are comparable to RJ Allen, Donny Toia, and Scott Sutter. Comparing those numbers, it’s clear that statistics don’t tell the entire story defensively with PC.

In terms of discipline, PC went from 10 fouls committed, a yellow card, and a red card in 2017, to six fouls, a yellow, and a sending off in 2018. Last year he drew 10 fouls and this year he drew only seven. So, it was pretty much a repeat of last season on the discipline front.

In U.S. Open Cup matches, PC made one 90-minute appearance, scored a goal on two shots, committed two fouls, and drew three.

Best Game

As it was with several of the players who didn’t see the field a lot, the 3-0 U.S. Open Cup victory over Miami United FC was PC’s best game of the season. Starting on the left side of the attacking midfield, he had two shot attempts, one on goal, and he scored. He was part of the buildup play that led to Dillon Powers’ first goal as a Lion, making it 2-0 to Orlando City at the time.

PC then put the game away with a goal of his own. Well positioned when Sacha Kljestan stole an errant back pass, PC drifted into space, waited for Kljestan’s pass, then smashed it into the net for his first goal as an Orlando City player.

2018 Final Grade

PC showed some improvement from his first to his second year, however, it was a pretty disappointing year overall. His defensive work, if anything, was worse in 2018, as he continually lost track of attackers when he played fullback and gave the ball away cheaply to put his teammates under pressure. He didn’t track runners well, and didn’t deny crosses either. As a result, despite some statistical improvement in some areas, the staff of The Mane Land handed PC a composite grade of 4 for the 2018 season — half a point below his rating last year. Although his individual game average grade was 4.5, there were games where the Lions may have been better off playing with 10 men. An example of that was the rating of 2 he received in the Lions’ 2-0 loss to New York City FC on July 27.

By far the worst player on the field tonight and it started out early on. A bad pass in the fifth minute led to the NYCFC opportunity that needed an Edwards double save. He missed a great chance to open the scoring in the 17th minute from about 10 yards out. New York City’s second goal was PC’s fault, as he mistimed his challenge in the box, sliding into next year, as Anton Tinnerholm easily got past him, shot, and scored. PC did almost create a goal in the 50thminute after good ball movement and ran up the field but the chance ended with a turnover in the final third. New York City got a goal that was called back for an offside in the 75th minute but PC got lucky as he was caught ball watching and Morález was wide open. In the dying minutes, he kept two NYCFC players onside. Luckily he made the tackle to stop the attack, but it could have been called for a foul. In his second start of the year, PC finished with 75% passing accuracy and three tackles.

A full season bouncing between MLS and the USL clearly didn’t improve PC’s defensive instincts, awareness, or technique. He’s played a lot of left back in his career but it just isn’t translating to the MLS level.

2019 Outlook

As mentioned above, Orlando City signed PC to a four-year contract in 2017. That would make him a Lion through the 2020 season — if those are four standard years and not additional options, and we don’t have that level of detail — unless he is sold, loaned out, or bought out. At $95,312.50, PC doesn’t represent a very big cap hit and has some versatility to play multiple positions. I suspect he’ll be back due to being inexpensive (and still under contract) because there may be a future for him as a midfielder or a wingback where there doesn’t seem to be one at fullback without a lot more development. He’ll turn 25 early in the 2019 season, so he could still improve and develop under the right tutelage.

While many fans are probably ready to move on from PC, it’s unlikely that the Lions would use their one contract buyout for 2019 on a guy making $95k. Unless he’s loaned out or Orlando City can find a buyer, he’ll likely be asked to provide depth again next season.


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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/20/24

The Wall sells out, Robin Jansson earns recognition, Concacaf W Gold cup preview, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re now just one day away from the first competitive Orlando City game of the year, and it can’t get here fast enough. As usual, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s jump straight into it.

The Wall Sells Out for Orlando City’s Season Opener

The Wall, the supporters section of Orlando City’s stadium, has sold out of single-match tickets ahead of Saturday’s home opener against CF Montreal. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the rest of the stadium, and hopefully it will fully sell out for the first match of the season. This Saturday will be the 10th consecutive time in which the Lions start their MLS season at home. It should be a great match and a chance for Orlando to get its season off to a good start between Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Cavalry FC.

Robin Jansson Praised as a Top Defender in MLS

Orlando City center back Robin Jansson was recognized as one of the best center backs in MLS by MLSsoccer.com‘s Joseph Lowery. The 32-year-old has been an integral part of Orlando’s defense since joining the league in 2019 and should continue anchoring the team’s back line this season. Not only is he excellent in terms of defense, but the Beefy Swede can also make an impact on offense with his passing and surprising runs up the field. Jansson is one of the most consistent defenders in the league and agreed to a new contract with the club earlier this month.

MLS Transfer News Roundup

The 2024 Major League Soccer season might kick off tomorrow, but transfers are still flying thick and fast, which means we have things to catch up on. We start with one of the teams opening the season tomorrow, Inter Miami, which has officially transferred midfielder Gregore to Botafogo in the Brazilian top flight. We move on to NYCFC, which has completed the signing of striker Jovan Mijatović from Red Star Belgrade. The 18-year-old Serbian youth international has inked a deal that runs through the 2028 season, with an option year for 2029. We finish up with the Houston Dynamo, which have signed Coco Carasquilla to a contract extension. The Panamanian midfielder’s deal now runs through the 2025 season and has option years for 2026 and 2027.

Concacaf W Gold Cup Preview

The inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off later today, so make sure you get up to speed on everything you need to know about the competition. The United States Women’s National Team has been grouped with Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, and will be looking for a strong showing following a disappointing campaign at last summer’s World Cup. The tournament will feature a total of 12 teams, with eight Concacaf representatives and four from CONMEBOL. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the knockout round, along with the top two third-place finishers. The USWNT begin play tonight against the Dominican Republican at 10:15 p.m. from Dignity Health Sports Park.

Americans in Midweek Action

With a number of American players taking part in games during the working week, get everything marked down on your calendar so you don’t miss anything. Things get started this afternoon with a huge game, as Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest, and PSV Eindhoven take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. European competition continues on Thursday as well, with Christian Pulisc, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Rennes in the Europa League play. Things finish out on Friday as the red-hot Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey face Juarez in Liga MX competition.

Minnesota United Close to Coaching Hire

A coaching search that will surely go down as one of the most thorough in MLS history is nearing its conclusion, as Minnesota United is reportedly close to naming Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay as the team’s new skipper. While nothing is official yet, Ramsay is said to be the leading candidate, and The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert says that the team is closing in on the hire. If he joins, Ramsay will become the youngest coach in league history at the tender age of 32, and he will also become Minnesota’s second coach following Adrian Heath’s departure in October of last year.

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That’s all I have for this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Opinion

Orlando City’s 10th Anniversary is the Time to Remember the Club’s Originals

Orlando City’s 10th year in MLS should be used to honor the players who built the club.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

The 2024 season is Orlando City’s 10th in Major League Soccer. The club has scheduled several events throughout the year to celebrate having been in the country’s top division for a decade, but the season should also be a time for fans to reflect on the people who made it happen without getting to experience the result.

Orlando City arrived in Orlando in 2010 with the goal of reaching MLS. However, it was the first professional soccer team in the city since the 1990s and resides in a football hotbed, leaving many to wonder if the team would be successful. The most famous doubt came at the team’s inaugural media day, when longtime WESH 2 sportscaster Pat Clake told club founder Phil Rawlins and inaugural Head Coach Adrian Heath that, while he wished them luck, a professional soccer team in Orlando would never work.

The Orlando project got off to a much better start than the Austin Aztex, Rawlins’ former project. During the team’s first season in 2011, Orlando City substantially outdrew its predecessor, proving there was an appetite for soccer. But there was another factor to the team’s popularity. The Lions won…a lot.

The success of a team at home has a significant impact on the enjoyment of attending games. In four USL Pro seasons, Orlando City was 40-3-9 (W-L-D) at the Citrus Bowl (now Camping World Stadium) and Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, winning three regular season titles and two USL Pro championships. Seeing the local team win and score frequently is much more likely to result in people returning for more games. That’s exactly what the Lions did, and it helped to create a following.

When MLS considered Orlando City for expansion, the league looked at average attendance, season ticket numbers, and community involvement. All of these factors were directly related to the team’s success on the field. For this reason, the key players on those teams are responsible for Orlando City being in MLS in the first place. 

In addition to their work on the field, the players from the USL Pro era worked in the community to build a following. They spoke with local groups and were active throughout Central Florida, convincing people to attend games. It was all about the effort of getting the team into MLS. Unfortunately, many of those players didn’t get to experience the results of their labor.

The core of Orlando City’s team from 2011 to 2013 remained the same, with Miguel Gallardo in goal, Luke Boden at left back, Rob Valentino at center back, Kevin Molino and Jamie Watson in the midfield, and Dennis Chin up top. The success they had resulted in the club being announced as the newest expansion side on Nov. 19, 2013. However, of those six stalwarts, only Boden and Molino continued with the team into MLS.

Over the past 10 years, Orlando City has had several star and fan favorite players come and go. As the club’s USL Pro era gets further in the rearview mirror, the players who built the organization are forgotten or unknown by a large portion of the fanbase that didn’t experience the early seasons.

To the club’s credit, Orlando City worked to keep the memory of the team’s foundation alive in recent years. This preseason, Chin, Lewis Neal (a 2011 original who returned to the team in MLS), and Dom Dwyer (who was on loan with the team in 2013 and returned in 2017) were involved in the popular away jersey unveiling. Additionally, Chin signed autographs and took part in a Q&A session during the Society XXI preseason game against the New England Revolution. They’ve had other events, like the 2022 U.S. Open Cup games against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, when former players have been invited back.

Additionally, the club raised banners last year for the 2011 and 2013 USL Pro championships and announced this year that it will display the trophies in a new permanent exhibit called “The Vault.” The club also released an updated version of the three-lion USL Pro logo from those first four seasons.

When people consider the factors that resulted in Orlando City joining MLS in 2015, the fan support during the USL Pro years is the first thing that comes to mind. But without the success of those teams and the work the players put into building the following, the club likely never would’ve made it to the top division. This 10th anniversary season is a good time to remember those club legends.

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