Connect with us

Orlando City

2020 Orlando City Season in Review: Mauricio Pereyra



Attacking midfielder Mauricio Pereyra’s arrival created some excitement in a dismal 2019 season. However, the Uruguayan maestro barely got on the field last year due to nagging injuries after being signed on July 30 from Krasnodar on a free transfer. His vision on the field was immediately apparent but all we knew other than that was that he looked good with his hair dyed blond.

Let’s take a look at his first full season in Orlando.

Statistical Breakdown

After seeing the field just six times in 2019 for a total of 394 minutes, Pereyra managed 16 appearances (14 starts) during the pandemic-shortened 2020 regular season for 1,107 minutes. He still missed a chunk of the year (five games) with what appeared to be a hamstring issue at the time of occurrence — the club called it an “undisclosed injury.” Pereyra scored his first two MLS goals in the regular season and added a team-high eight assists, attempting nine shots and getting four on frame. One of his two goals was the game winner on Sept. 12 vs. Inter Miami.

Pereyra completed 25 dribbles and created 33 scoring chances. Based on chance creation, his eight assists indicate that his teammates owed him a little better finishing in the final third. He was tidy in possession, passing at an 83.5% rate. On the defensive side, the Uruguayan contributed 16 tackles, 10 interceptions, four clearances, and a block. He committed 18 fouls while drawing 20, but his tendency to lunge to win a ball back after losing control earned him six yellow cards during the regular season — but no reds — and a suspension for Orlando’s regular-season finale against Nashville SC.

In the MLS is Back Tournament knockout stages, Pereyra started all four games, playing 344 of the 360 available minutes. He scored a goal in the MLS is Back final against Portland but did not earn an assist in the four elimination games, attempting four shots with one on target. He also made his penalty attempt in the shootout against LAFC on Orlando’s first shot. Across those four matches, Pereyra completed five dribbles and created seven scoring chances, with a whopping six of those coming against LAFC. His passing rate for the knockout games was 82.7%. He contributed five tackles and four interceptions, committed four fouls, drew five free kicks, and saw one yellow card.

Pereyra started both of Orlando City’s playoff games, playing 105 minutes of the 120 against New York City FC but only 60 before being sent off against New England, for a total of 165 minutes. He did not score or assist on a goal in the postseason, attempting two shots but getting neither on frame. He created five scoring chances (all against NYCFC), passing with 83.5% accuracy, and completed nine dribbles (eight against NYCFC). He stepped up his defensive game in the postseason, compiling seven tackles, an interception, and a block, and the 30-year-old committed two fouls, drew two fouls, and was shown one straight red card for a horror tackle from behind against New England.

Best Game

The Lions’ midfield maestro had several big matches in 2020 but I’ll go with his two-assist performance against the Columbus Crew in a 2-1 win on Nov. 4. The Lions spent most of the second half down to 10 men due to Nani being wrongly sent off.

Orlando City took a 1-0 lead when Pereyra pounced on a wayward back pass from Harrison Afful that was intended for Artur. The Uruguayan took possession and bypassed a covered Tesho Akindele right in front, instead finding the perfect place to send the ball — a wide-open Chris Mueller, who was making a back post run. Mueller settled the ball and scored to give the Lions a deserved lead and Magic Mo had his first assist of the game.

Columbus equalized in the second half just moments after Nani’s sending off. The captain was initially shown a yellow and then referee Ramy Touchan changed his mind and gave a red after watching the replay. Since the red card was overturned in the midweek, it’s hard to imagine what Touchan saw upon review that made him believe he’d made a clear and obvious error, but the Lions were down to 10 men and level at 1-1 with nearly the full second half to play.

But Orlando City stayed compact in a 4-4-1 formation, held the Crew to hopeful long-range shots and crosses from the wings, and found some opportunities to counter. The game seemed destined to end in a tie when Pereyra pulled a little more magic out of his hat. He sent a perfect long ball forward to Benji Michel in the 84th minute that led to the winner.

Michel headed the ball up and behind himself, then turned inside the Crew defense and won the race to the loose ball before slotting it home between goalkeeper Eloy Room’s legs in what turned out to be the MLS Goal of the Week Award winner.

Pereyra’s second assist of the match was just about his last contribution, as he was subbed off moments later for Joey DeZart. Oscar Pareja had been planning the sub for a few minutes due to the Uruguayan sitting on a yellow card, but luckily there weren’t any stoppages in play before Pereyra was able to send the ball forward to Michel.

In addition to his two assists in the match, Pereyra attempted one shot and completed 63 of 67 passes for a 94% completion rate. He created six scoring chances in the match, equaling his season high, set twice previously vs. LAFC and at FC Dallas. He also completed two dribbles, five crosses, three long balls, and a through ball and drew four free kicks while committing just the one foul for which he’d been booked. In addition, he chipped in defensively with a tackle and an interception.

It was a tour de force performance by the Uruguayan Designated Player when the Lions needed one. Orlando City clinched a home match in the playoffs and temporarily jumped over the Crew into third in the standings heading into the season’s final weekend.

2020 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Pereyra a composite rating of 7.5 for the season after he failed to qualify for a final season rating in 2019. Some staff members had him rated as high as an 8. I tend to think season grades that high and perhaps a half point higher should be reserved for MLS Best XI players. Pereyra was arguably Orlando City’s MVP for 2020 with his vision, ball control, and ability to pull defenders out of position and pick out the right pass to punish them for it. The club went 8-1-5 with a +13 goal differential in the 14 matches that he started.

However, he could look for his shot a little more often, which would make him an even more dangerous player, and he could stand to be a little smarter about making lunging tackle attempts in order to raise his grade next season. Still, a 7.5 for a midfielder is quite good.

2021 Outlook

Following the 2020 season, Orlando City signed the 30-year-old to a one-year contract extension on Dec. 1, that runs through the end of the 2021 MLS season.

“We are very excited to have Mauricio continue with us in Orlando for another year,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He has shown himself to be incredibly creative and a driving force behind our attack. Mauricio is a very important piece on our roster and we look forward to seeing how he continues to elevate his game with the club next season.”

While Pereyra isn’t getting any younger or faster, it’s reasonable to expect a similar performance from the Uruguayan in 2021, provided he can avoid the injury issues he has suffered through the last two seasons. Not having so many matches so tightly scheduled as MLS had during this pandemic year would help save him some wear and tear, but a normal schedule also means more travel and more different climates in which to play. When healthy, Pereyra is as good as anyone in MLS at connecting the lines and sending attacking players into threatening positions. That shouldn’t change next year and Orlando will be better for it.

Previous Seasons in Review (Date Posted)

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 2020 Season in Review series, as we rated all players who saw action for the Lions during the most recent MLS campaign. The only rostered players from the year not covered were Josué Colmán — on loan all season and subsequently had his option declined — and Homegrown Players Michael Halliday and Mason Stajduhar, neither of whom made an appearance.

Orlando City

Orlando City Can Build Valuable Momentum in April

The last two games of April present a good chance for the Lions to keep building momentum ahead of a challenging May.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City got back to winning ways last Saturday and started a mini-undefeated streak in the process, as the Lions have now gone three games on the bounce without tasting defeat. OCSC has two more games to play during the month of April, and the scheduling gods have given the men in purple a chance to keep building on the recent run of good form, as a tricky and packed May schedule looms on the horizon. The last two April fixtures won’t be easy by any stretch, but an opportunity has presented itself if the Lions can play well and take advantage of it.

First, let’s turn our attention to Saturday’s game against CF Montreal up in Canada. Montreal currently has a record of 3-3-1 which is good for 10 points and eighth place in the Eastern Conference. These two teams faced each other in the very first game of the season, and it ended as a 0-0 draw, thanks largely in part to some shaky finishing on Orlando’s part and a couple excellent Pedro Gallese saves. Since then, Montreal has defeated a struggling FC Dallas team, an Inter Miami team that has looked equal parts unbeatable and extremely vulnerable at the back, and an FC Cincinnati side that so far has struggled to replace the goals of Brandon Vazquez. In other words, the wins haven’t come over bad teams, (aside from maybe Dallas) but rather teams that have had flawed, uneven starts to the season.

To be fair, many of the same criticisms could be leveled at Orlando City’s record. OCSC’s wins have come against Austin FC and D.C. United — two teams with leaky defenses that have each had uneven starts to the season — and the Lions have suffered losses that have ranged from uninspiring against Atlanta, to abhorrent against Miami. Where the two teams differ is that Orlando started the year battling on two fronts and then had key players missing through a combination of injury and international call-ups afterward. The Lions now have a nearly clean bill of health and looked much more cohesive with Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo partnered in midfield once more — a welcome sight after some of the struggles that were endured when one or both were missing at various times.

The Canadian side also hasn’t kept a clean sheet since that opening game of the season against the Lions, a fact that could bode well for an Orlando side which has scored six goals in its last three games. As long as the defense can tighten up and not make the sorts of mental errors that led to goals against D.C. and the New York Red Bulls, there will be opportunities at the other end of the field for an attacking corps that has done a better job at putting the ball in the net than we saw during the first game of the season. In short, the game is a winnable one, and while getting road results in MLS is never easy, OCSC should feel reasonably confident about its chances to get points on its trip north of the border.

That leaves Toronto FC’s visit to the Purple Palace on Saturday, April 27. The Reds currently sit one spot below CF Montreal, in ninth place, with a record of 3-4-1 and 10 points. TFC’s victories have been over a New England team that has been struggling mightily, a Charlotte FC side that has had a decent but slightly inconsistent start to the year, and an Atlanta United outfit that can have the same said of it as Charlotte. The wins have all been solid ones, and the team looked pretty good in those three games.

On the flip side of things, the last of those wins came on March 23, with Toronto dropping its last three games in a row and conceding 10 goals in the process. They’ve got the second leakiest defense of any of the nine teams in the playoff places, while being tied with Cincinnati for scoring the fewest goals.

Then there’s the issue of player availability. The Reds’ injury list is a long one, with six players currently listed as out and an additional one as questionable. Among those listed out are Lorenzo Insigne, Richie Laryea, Brandon Servania, and Shane O’Neill. In other words, they’re likely to be missing guys that are key contributors for the team when healthy, and part of the recent losing streak can be attributed to dealing with the injury bug that’s bit the team with a vengeance. Playing on the road without a number of important key players is rarely a recipe for success, and Orlando City should have another good chance to pick up three points.

Now, this isn’t to say that taking all six points from these games is a foregone conclusion. MLS is a tricky league to get results in, and we have no way of knowing how the fortunes of Orlando, Montreal, and Toronto will change in the next eight days. But given the leaky defenses of the two Canadian sides, TFC’s injury situation, and Orlando City seemingly starting to find a better patch of form, the Lions have an opportunity to keep picking up points and climbing the Eastern Conference standings. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/19/24

Orlando Pride host the San Diego Wave, Orlando City B faces Crown Legacy FC, Europa League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Friday! Make sure to get your night plans in order as both the Orlando Pride and Orlando City B have games tonight. Figure out your drink of choice, charge those devices if you don’t plan on heading to the stadium for the Pride game, and knock out any chores before things get rolling. It should be a fun day, so let’s get it started with some links!

Orlando Pride Host the San Diego Wave Tonight

After earning their first win last week in Utah, the Orlando Pride are back in the City Beautiful for tonight’s game against the San Diego Wave at 8 p.m. The Pride’s four-game unbeaten run is on the line and will be put to the test against a Wave team that has four points from three games. San Diego has only scored two goals this season, but it has also secured a pair of clean sheets so far. The biggest storyline heading into the match is whether or not Barbra Banda will make her Pride debut. Hopefully Orlando can light it up at home and keep former Pride forward Alex Morgan and the rest of the Wave’s offense in check.

Orlando City B Takes On Crown Legacy FC

The Young Lions are also in action tonight at 7:30 p.m., with a match against Crown Legacy FC in North Carolina. Crown Legacy is only a point behind OCB, but is still searching for its first win of this MLS NEXT Pro season. OCB has played every game away from the Orlando area so far and ground out a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union II last weekend. Orlando hasn’t won a game since its season opener on March 16, but has been proven capable of getting points on the road. Wilfredo Rivera and Yutaro Tsukada linked up for the equalizer in that match, so hopefully they can keep that momentum rolling into tonight’s game.

Americans to Watch This Weekend

European soccer seasons and tournaments are nearing their ends and there are many Americans in important games this weekend. Haji Wright’s heroics put Coventry City into the FA Cup semifinals, and he will have a chance to impress again on Sunday against Manchester United. Elsewhere in England, Fulham duo Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream could put a dent in Liverpool’s title hopes, while Nottingham Forest’s Matt Turner and Giovanni Reyna will square off against Everton, as both sides aim to avoid relegation. Over in Italy, AC Milan duo Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah will try to stop Inter Milan from claiming the Serie A title in a rivalry match at San Siro. There’s also a showdown between Americans in the Scottish Cup semifinals, with Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers going up against Aberdeen and Dante Polvara.

Europa League Quarterfinals Come to a Close

The Europa League quarterfinals are done and dusted and only four teams remain in contention for some silverware. West Ham United took the lead against Bayer Leverkusen, but couldn’t overcome the aggregate deficit and the German club advanced. Leverkusen also scored a late equalizer to make it a 1-1 draw and extend its unbeaten streak to 44 games. Marseille scored at home against Benfica to send the game to extra time and then won the eventual penalty shootout. Atalanta did enough in a 1-0 loss to Liverpool to advance on aggregate, with Liverpool’s lone goal coming from an early Mohamed Salah penalty kick. AS Roma is also through to the semifinals after a 2-1 win against AC Milan, despite a red card in the first half. In the semifinals, Marseille will face Atalanta and Leverkusen will take on Roma.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dynamo Head Coach Ben Olsen has agreed to a new contract that will keep him with the club through 2026. Olsen has quietly dragged the Dynamo out of the Western Conference’s basement and won last year’s U.S. Open Cup as well.
  • New York Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes was suspended an additional match for violent conduct in the team’s match against the Chicago Fire. This means Reyes will miss tomorrow’s match against LAFC and the home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 27.
  • American left back Jorge Villafana is hanging up his cleats. He won the MLS Cup with the Portland Timbers back in 2015 and the Concacaf Gold Cup with the U.S. in 2017.
  • Replays won’t be a part of the FA Cup for the next six years. This will ease some of the schedule congestion for English Premier League teams, but it denies lower-division sides the chance at more revenue.
  • The folks over at Stars and Stripes FC shined a spotlight on forward Jubilo Iwata, who currently leads Japan’s J1 League in scoring after eight games. It’s always cool to learn more about some of the lesser-known players in the U.S. player pool.
  • An NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers will be played in Brazil at Corinthians Arena. However, there’s an unofficial rule at the stadium that green can’t be worn, as it is the color of Corinthians rival, so we’ll see if that’s adhered to come September.
  • Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird’s production company will adapt Cleat Cute, a romance novel by Meryl Wilsner about love between teammates on a women’s soccer team. As someone who’s read it and loved it, I’m pretty excited for the show to say the least.

That’s all I have for you today. Stay hydrated and enjoy the games today. Go Orlando!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

Orlando City at CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do on the road against CF Montreal to take home all three points ?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City opened the season against CF Montreal, playing to a 0-0 draw at Inter&Co Stadium back in February. Now, the Lions head to the Great White North to play the pesky Canadian club again. There’s no Concacaf Champions Cup competition to worry about this time, so hopefully Orlando City can get a victory.

What does Orlando City need to do to follow up the D.C. United victory with another win?

Just Say No

Outscoring your opponents while giving up two goals is all well and good, but outscoring your opponents while also keeping a clean sheet is much better. Orlando City has given up 13 goals over seven matches. It’s actually worse than that considering that the club has two clean sheets meaning those 13 goals came in just five matches. The Lions need to do better at not conceding goals.

Of course, one of those clean sheets came against Montreal to start the season, and the entire defense is seemingly healthy and ready to go. Our old foe Josef Martinez is always a threat and Matias Coccaro has three goals for Montreal so far this season. Stopping them is crucial. If Orlando City can maintain the same defensive discipline it showed in the previous match against Montreal, it will make earning points on the road much easier.

Designated Player Goals

Orlando City has scored seven goals so far this season. Duncan McGuire leads the team with three goals, thanks to his goal last week. Do you know who hasn’t scored yet? If you said any of Orlando City’s Designated Players, you would be correct. I’m not going to ring any emergency bells just yet, but it’d be a lot cooler if Luis Muriel, Martin Ojeda, or Facundo Torres scored a goal this week.

I think they are all close to breaking out. Torres has scored this year, just not in the MLS regular season. Muriel has been getting closer each match, and is still contributing in other ways. The same can be said of Ojeda. My point is that the goals are coming. Perhaps a trip to another country is exactly what they need to get off the mark.

The Battle on the Wings

Orlando City will be playing against former Lion Ruan. He lines up on the right for Montreal and will be a challenge for either Rafael Santos or Kyle Smith, depending on who gets the start. Of course, if Ivan Angulo is playing in his usual role on the left side of Orlando City’s attack, there could be some interesting races between the two speedy players.

I think that the other side of the field is where the match might be won or lost. Since Orlando City fell out of the Concacaf Champions Cup, the team has been on a more regular schedule. That has allowed Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to regain his form in the right fullback position for the Lions. He scored a goal last week, has an assist on the season, four crosses, and 10 key passes. He is an integral part of Orlando City’s attack and if he can win the battles against Raheem Edwards and Joaquin Sosa on the right side of Montreal’s lineup, he could have another big night.

That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading