Orlando City Needs More from Martin Ojeda in 2024

What does Martin Ojeda need to accomplish in his second season with the Lions?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Martin Ojeda was signed by Orlando City a little over one year ago, back on Jan. 9 2023 from Argentina top flight team Godoy Cruz as a Designated Player. Breaking down Ojeda’s impact as a Lion throughout his first season in purple is anything but simple. Designated Players in Major League Soccer’s bizarre salary cap and contract ecosystem are — as a general rule of thumb — supposed to be instant difference makers who elevate a team whenever they are on the field.

The problem for Ojeda, at least during the majority of 2023, was simply getting into the starting lineup in the first place.

Throughout the 2023 season, Ojeda logged 1,751 minutes of game time across 34 matches and was responsible for 16 goal-scoring contributions, with six goals and 10 assists. A respectable season in its own right still felt to many as if Ojeda had underperformed due to the fact that he was not a regular starter in the lineup.

Fellow DP Facundo Torres was responsible for 18 goal-scoring contributions while having logged 626 more minutes of game time. There is certainly a learning curve when adjusting to the pace and physicality of MLS matches, the frequency of matches and travel associated with a full season of fixtures, and the culture in a new country. These growing pains were magnified for Ojeda, who also never seemed to have a true role established in the squad. Nonetheless, Ojeda still managed to tie former captain Maurico Pereyra, with a team-best 0.51 assists per 90 minutes while logging 376 fewer minutes than Pereyra did.

With all that being said, lets look at the two avenues where Ojeda can buck the narrative that he did not deserve a Designated Player slot and where he can continue to grow as a Lion in 2024.

Command Starting Caliber Minutes

Ojeda now benefits from an entire season of experience with the Orlando City coaching staff, and almost the entire complement of attacking players that he suited up alongside during his first year with the team has returned for 2024. The learning curve at this point should be in the rearview mirror and expectations should be clearly identified for Ojeda at this point.

The first step in proving that he deserves the DP slot is by commanding a role in the starting lineup, match in and match out. The reality of Ojeda’s situation is that perception plays a major role in whether or not his time spent with the club will be deemed a success or not, and having a DP coming off the bench simply gives off the wrong perception of the quality of his play.

When his statistics are truly broken down from year one, Ojeda proved to be one of the brightest points on the team scoresheet, despite the perception that he was destined to be a bench player. To consider year two a success for Ojeda, he simply needs to do everything in his power to be in the starting 11 each week, and if he is able to do that, then his overall contributions seem destined only to grow from his first season with the squad.

Increase the Goal Output

Assists might be the least sexy of statistics on the offensive side of the ball, outside of expected goals which, I am sorry is simply a made up stat that matters very, very little. Ojeda had great assist numbers in year one and it could easily be argued that if he would have logged the same amount of minutes as Torres or Pereyra that he would have led the team in overall assists. The real eye opener for fans and the media alike, however, is putting the ball in the back of the net. Ojeda needs to wind up with a double digit statistic of goals scored in 2024 to prove to the naysayers that he belongs as a DP.

When he has been on the field, Ojeda has proven that he is not afraid to pull the trigger from anywhere or at any time, and throughout the first few months of 2023, Ojeda actually led MLS in shots taken. Shots on target…well maybe not so much, but the desire to send the ball towards goal can not be discounted, and now all Ojeda needs to do is develop a maturity of his shot attempts and operate with a clinical nature to back up his gunslinger attitude. After all, if Ojeda can put this type of shot in the back of the net, then scoring from within the box should be no problem at all!

Overall, I suspect that Ojeda will take a major leap in year two with Orlando City and that by the end of the season, he and Torres will be looked back upon as a true dynamic duo throughout MLS circles. Let us know in the comments below what you feel Ojeda needs to do during his second year with the club to have his season be considered a resounding success, and as always vamos Orlando!


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