Orlando City SC head coach Adrian Heath found himself consistently balancing his depth throughout the Lions' inaugural MLS season, navigating the marathon that is a full slate of league games. Whether through suspension, injuries, or international duty, the left back position saw three players predominantly share time on the lineup card.
So, who did it best?
The Case for Brek Shea
Shea started the season as the premier left back, holding the position through April before an injury-riddled midfield necessitated a move forward. Definitively the best passer of the group, Shea registered a 79.91 percent passing rate to go with 1.12 key passes per game from the position.
Strong both on the ball and in defense, Brek also led left backs in tackles per game at 1.875, although he did come up short in other defensive categories. Most clearly of all, Brek dominates the eye test at the position. He plays the game with a fluidity and confidence that demands the attention of the defense while moving forward, and with the tenacity needed to be aggressive tracking back.
The Case for Luke Boden
Having made 21 appearances at the position, Boden became the regular starter once Shea settled in the midfield. While the least impressive defensive statistics belong to Bodz, he was clearly an influential piece of Inchy's attack.
Confident and quick working up the left, he averaged a position high 65.9 touches en route to nearly doubling his counterparts with 1.02 accurate crosses per game. Inchy trusted him working set pieces as well, proven here when Boden places one on the near post for Aurelien Collin to feast on.
He may not have scared anyone defensively, but this half of the Killer B's was a nuisance to defenses throughout the season.
The Case for Corey Ashe
Acquired for a wad of cash and a second-round pick, the diminutive but lightning-quick Ashe wasted little time making an impact on both flanks. He had a run of starts on the left side in the late summer, and was instantly the most comfortable handling the defensive assignments called for at that position.
Ashe is more of a pest than a brute defensively, but his effectiveness was as clear as day. His position-leading interceptions (two per game) and clearances (three per game) show a high IQ for the nuances of the position. And, of course, his masterpiece against the Crew on Aug. 1 had us salivating at his ultimate upside.
Recording three tackles, five interceptions, six clearances and two assists, Ashe used his comic book speed to punish the Crew en route to a dominant 5-2 victory for the Lions
Each had their bright spots, and each had their shortcomings. With all three Lions bringing their own unique skill set to the club, who did you think was the most influential?