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2022 Orlando City Season in Review: Cesar Araujo

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Orlando City signed Uruguayan midfielder Cesar Araujo on Jan. 7 from Montevideo Wanderers to a three-year contract with an additional club option year. Araujo’s signing was part of Major League Soccer’s U22 Initiative, a program designed to promote the growth of younger players and to remove some of the roadblocks to their paths to professional soccer by giving teams incentive and opportunity to sign such players at a reduced budget charge.

Araujo was expected to come in and battle Sebas Mendez, Andres Perea, and Joey DeZart for playing time but instead he quickly claimed the club’s No. 6 role as his own and made Mendez a bench player who was ultimately shipped out in search of playing time elsewhere.

Let’s look back at Araujo’s first season in Orlando.

Statistical Analysis

In the U.S. Open Cup, Araujo appeared in all six matches (5 starts), logging 475 out of the 600 total available minutes (two of the games included 30 minutes of extra time). He scored two goals on three shot attempts, putting two of the three on target. Araujo completed 88.4% of his 293 pass attempts with 19 accurate long balls and recorded two key passes but did not notch an assist. He finished with eight interceptions, committing 11 fouls, suffering 15, and earning two yellow cards.

During the regular season, Araujo appeared in 31 of Orlando City’s 34 games (28 starts), logging 2,462 minutes — fifth most on the team. He did not score a goal but he did assist on one, attempting just 17 shots all season and getting only two on frame. He passed with 90.7% accuracy, 12 key passes, 74 accurate long balls, and two accurate crosses. Defensively, he compiled 73 tackles, 31 interceptions, 29 clearances, and six blocks. He committed 43 fouls and suffered 69, receiving eight yellow cards and getting sent off once.

Araujo also started in Orlando’s playoff match in Montreal, logging 87 minutes. He did not score or assist on a goal or attempt a shot. He connected on 87.8% of his 41 passes and completed three accurate long balls but did not have a key pass or a cross. Defensively, he finished with three tackles, an interception, and a clearance. He did not commit a foul but drew one and was not booked.

Best Game

Just going by defensive play and controlling the midfield, there are a lot of matches to choose from, but the no-brainer best game here from Araujo is his two-goal performance against the New York Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on July 27 in Exploria Stadium.

The Lions fell behind in stoppage time just before the break when Lewis Morgan scored in transition and it looked as though the Red Bulls would carry momentum into halftime. But Orlando City won a corner kick in the final seconds of the opening period and made it pay off. Araujo pounced on the rebound of a header that crashed off the left post and swept it home for his first professional goal, tying the score at the death of the half. The youngster’s excitement was obvious and the celebration seemed to boost the entire team, setting the scene for a big second half.

Mauricio Pereyra gave Orlando its first lead in the game just one minute and 16 seconds into the second half, finishing a fantastic team goal. That set the stage for Araujo to give the Lions some insurance in the 62nd minute on another corner kick. Alexandre Pato’s delivery was deflected into the air. Benji Michel headed it across the box and Araujo picked it out of the air in one motion and smashed it home for his brace, giving Orlando City some breathing room en route to a 5-1 drubbing of the Red Bulls.

Araujo’s two goals were scored on his only two shot attempts of the match. His two shots were a season high in all competitions, matched only once, and his two shots on target were a season high. He passed at an 87.2% rate in the game, with three accurate long balls.

Defensively, Araujo helped limit the dangerous Morgan to just two shot attempts and 68.8% passing. He committed three fouls and took a booking in the match, but that’s part of the central midfielder’s job and without Araujo snatching momentum from New York at the death of the first half, Orlando City might not have won its first major trophy in its MLS era this past season.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff rated Araujo’s first MLS season with an incredible composite score of 8 out of 10 for the 2022 season. Among the staff, Araujo is considered one of the team’s most valuable players from this past season and while some of that is likely that his contributions were a bit surprising in comparison to some of the higher profile signings, it is mainly because he played extremely well. Just 20 when he was signed, the now-21-year-old midfielder has looked far more like a seasoned veteran than many older central midfielders around the league. If the Uruguayan had any issues adjusting to a new culture, league, and team, those issues never showed, which is a testament to Araujo’s maturity and quality of play.

The only knock on his game isn’t really a knock at all. Defensive midfielders aren’t expected to contribute heavily to a team’s offense, but if Araujo can provide more opportunities for his teammates via long balls or through balls (although he does have a mean long throw), and knock in an occasional goal in league play, he’d become even more exceptional.

2023 Outlook

Araujo is signed through 2024 with an option for 2025, but European teams will be inquiring soon if they aren’t already. Orlando City would be wise to keep him for as long as he’s willing to stay. If the Lions manage to hang onto him for another year, and he continues to play like he has, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in Europe by the start of the 2023-2024 season. Ideally, if/when the Lions sell Araujo, the club should do what it can to find a partner willing to loan him back to Orlando City the way the Chicago Fire did with Chelsea and goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina. The young Uruguayan midfielder is just 21 and is already among the best defensive midfielders in Major League Soccer. You don’t part with a player like that until you absolutely have no choice.


Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Crew?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City earned seven points during a three-match stretch over eight days. Now the Lions will look to keep things rolling against the Columbus Crew this Saturday night at Inter&Co Stadium. The Crew are currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points compared to Orlando City in 10th with 16 points.

What do the Lions need to do to get a victory at home against the Crew?

Switch Focus

Orlando City has lucked out because Columbus striker Cucho Hernández will not play, as he is nursing a back injury. Hernández has often been a thorn in Orlando’s side when the clubs play, so his absence is definitely good news. However, that doesn’t mean that the defense can relax. The Crew still have a potent attack with players like Diego Rossi, Jacen Russell-Rowe, Aidan Morris, and others. Columbus has scored 19 goals so far this season, which is four more than Orlando’s 15. I think it is likely that Oscar Pareja will stick with the 3-5-2 formation, meaning the pressure will be on the back three of David Brekalo, Wilder Cartagena, and Rodrigo Schlegel.

Goals Needed

Orlando City left it late against San Jose before Jack Lynn scored in the 89th minute to give the Lions a victory. That’s not to say there weren’t wasted chances — because there were — but it was enough that night. It likely won’t be enough against Columbus. We don’t know the status of Duncan McGuire’s injury as of this writing, but I would be surprised to see him in the lineup, let alone getting the start. That means we will likely see Jack Lynn alongside Luis Muriel up top. Lynn is no McGuire, but he is able to get into good spaces in the box and has a nose for goal. Another goal from him or Muriel could make a big difference.

Scheduling Factors

I’m not saying that Wilfried Nancy will be looking ahead to the Concacaf Champions Cup final against Pachuca the following week, but a trophy is a trophy, and it could impact who he plays and for how long. He might be keeping Hernández out for precautionary reasons to allow him time to be ready for the final. It’s possible that he risks points against Orlando City in pursuit of hardware. Pareja doesn’t have it any easier with Orlando City playing a midweek match at the Chicago Fire next Wednesday before heading to New Jersey for a match against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, June 1. May has been brutal for the Lions, and though the team has made the most of it so far, it doesn’t get any easier. How much will rotation affect Orlando’s ability to get all three points?


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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the MLSsoccer.com power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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