Over the course of the off-season, The Mane Land will look at each position within the Lions' starting XI to see how those players stacked up statistically against the league average player at that position. We have finished our look at each position of the field, and will turn our attention now to the field in thirds--defensive, middle, and offensive.
After each "third" of the field is compared to the league, we will then do an overall comparison as it can give a higher level view of the current shape and statistical spots that Orlando may try to rectify over the off-season. This week, we'll look at how Orlando's defense compared to the MLS average team over the 2015 season
Being the inaugural season for Orlando, many would expect the defense to be suspect, at best. Over the past four weeks, we have shown that Orlando's defensive players are arguably better than league average players at their position. By looking at each position, we were able to isolate trouble spots that may have led to Orlando coming up just short in its quest for the playoffs.
Well, unfortunately, overall the strength quickly turns to weakness. The first statistic to look at here is goals allowed--teams with high instances of conceding goals find it harder to win games. However, it's the underlying stats--not just goals conceded--that can tell the story. Those stats are: shots per game conceded (Shots PG Conceded); tackles per game (Tackles PG); interceptions per game (Inter PG); and fouls conceded per game (Fouls Con PG).
Using these statistics we can understand how well the defense played and how often it gave up dangerous set piece plays. Below is the comparison between Orlando and the league average defense.
Okay, so nothing here looks good. Unfortunately, Orlando's defense succumbed to what most people predicted; in every category by which defenses were measured, Orlando was found to be lacking. Not only did the team allow more shots than the league average defense per game, it also made fewer tackles, intercepted fewer passes, and committed more fouls, while also allowing more offside calls. While some could argue that winning more offside calls shows that a team is playing high up the pitch and its back line is in sync, I would argue that more offside calls, coupled with the the rest of these measures, just shows that Orlando was being attacked more often over the top.
All of these measures led to Orlando having a worse overall rating than the league average MLS team, according to WhoScored.com. Now, what we can say for sure here is that Orlando definitely has room for improvement. Do not be surprised to see Orlando City sign a few players this off-season to help improve the team's overall defense. Hopefully, Orlando can turn the tables and end the 2016 season ranked higher than the rest of MLS.