After a brief one week layoff, The Mane Land returns to its statistical comparison for Orlando City and MLS as a whole. Our last piece focused on Kaká, and argued that when looking directly at his on-field statistical performance the argument could be made for an underwhelming first campaign in MLS. This week, we'll take look at some of his supporting cast, specifically the players who manned the ever-revolving door at right midfield throughout the season.
Throughout the 2015 season, there were a number of players who earned minutes at the right midfield position for Orlando City. The season started with the two-time USL MVP Kevin Molino laying claim to the position through pre-season training. Molino, who is also an international star for Trinidad and Tobago, unfortunately went down on May 2 with a torn ACL during a friendly match with Ponte Preta. The loss of what many saw as a centerpiece to the Orlando attack caused some headaches moving forward.
The list of players to try their hand at the wide right position after Molino went down is pretty lengthy and arguably bereft of MLS level talent; it includes players such as Eric Avila, Lewis Neal, and the mid-season addition of Adrian Winter. Moving into 2016, only two of these players, Molino and Winter, are on the OCSC roster. Neal has moved into a role with OCB, and Eric Avila's loan ended after the 2015 season.
Most of our statistical showdown pieces have focused on the current players signed to Orlando City for the 2016 season, however to fully understand the inept play at the right midfield position in 2015, we will be looking at all of the aforementioned players and how they compared to the MLS league average right midfielder.
The league average player in this piece needed to reach the requisite number of minutes played (600) for the MLS season, and also needed to hold the designation of either RW or RM in FIFA 16. Considering the constant updates to the game, this could be a trusted source for defining player positions. The statistics were pulled from The Washington Post.
The metrics that were used for the comparison between OCSC right midfielders and the average player at this position are normalized per 90 minutes. The metrics are: Goals (G(90)); Assists (A(90)); Shots (SHTS(90)); Shots on Goal (SOG(90)); Fouls suffered minus fouls called (FS-FC(90)) and Crosses (CR(90)) are all included in the comparison below, with OCSC players represented by the beautiful purple and the league average player as blue.
When looking at a comparison between the MLS league average player, Molino, Winter, and Avila, we can see that there really does not seem to be an Orlando player that stands out offensively. No one bested his statistical counterparts in all of the categories, or even in most of them. Focusing on Molino, we can see that he did not have the type of offensive impact many would have expected from a two-time USL MVP, he did not register a goal in just over 600 minutes, nor did he best the league average player in crosses per 90 or shots on goal per 90. Molino, however, does show strengths in the fouls category, while also taking more shots per 90 minutes that the league average player.
Looking to the other current player on the roster, Adrian Winter, we see a bit more offensive action as Winter on the season can count two goals to his name. These goals per 90 minutes gives him a statistical strength over the league average player, and he also looks good in the shots and shots on goal categories as well. However, he falls well short in fouls and crossing.
So what do we say about Avila here, he is below average even when compared to the league average player at the right midfield position, and even from an eye test during the 2015 season viewers could see how uncomfortable Avila was playing past the halfway line. He is not the type of player that would hold strengths in the attacking third and that bears out in his statistics. We can also see the same problem with Lewis Neal, who stayed well below the league average player in all statistics in this comparison, that telling graphic is below.
Again, there is not much to say, for a player who played over 1500 minutes in a team's inaugural season there have to be some questions asked on how he could continuously be fielded when he played well below the league average counterpart. Perhaps there were no players on the market that could have done better, perhaps Neal really understood the system Heath was running, or maybe perhaps Avila and Neal being used so often were mistakes.
In 2016 Orlando should see the return of Kevin Molino and will still have Adrian Winter, who showed the ability to play on the right side and have impact while still having room for growth within MLS. Hopefully this coming year Orlando City will not see an injury that causes so much derision within the City community.