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The Effect of Defense on Making the Playoffs

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Stop more goals, make the playoffs. But is that all there is to it? We take a deeper look at last season's results and what they might mean going forward.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we took a look at how scoring affected making the playoffs, and determined the biggest aspect was goal differential. This week we look at the other end of the field and focus on defense.

So how well did Orlando City play, defensively? We're going to look at five statistics that best represent defense and where Orlando City ranked in 2015. Those areas are Goals Conceded (GC); Saves (S); Shutouts (SO); Penalties Conceded (PC); and Offside (OFF).

GC S SO PC OFF
Orlando City 56 (16th) 79 (15th) 7  (17th) 7 (14th) 82 (16th)


As we can see from the rankings, Orlando City found itself near the bottom of list in almost every measure. As we mentioned, Orlando City had a goal differential of -10, and was 10th in goals scored. We saw last week that goal differential was the most important measure regarding scoring and making the playoffs. Looking at the rankings, we can see that goals conceded is where teams should focus their energy, not necessarily goals scored. Orlando City ranked 10th in scoring, but 16th in goals conceded. The team finished five points behind Toronto and missed the playoffs. If the Lions cut the goals conceded in half, they wouldn't need to score any additional goals to make the playoffs.

So how does Orlando City go about cutting down on goals conceded? Given the rankings, it's quite obvious that improving the defense should be more important than improving scoring. Orlando City runs a 4-2-3-1, with four players on defense. The Mane Land's Brent Petkus gives us a good overview on how the defense is supposed to work in that system. Orlando City has Aurelien Collin, Rafael Ramos, Luke Boden, Seb Hines, and David Mateos returning on defense, with (most likely) Joe Bendik in goal. This offseason, the team added veteran defender Kevin Alston, who should give Rafael Ramos some good competition at fullback. It was also just announced yesterday that the club signed Honduran defender, Devron García.

It would seem that the front office is making some moves to improve City's defensive statistics. Whether these moves are the ones that will make a difference isn't something we'll know until the Lions take the field. At least it seems that steps to address those defensive rankings are being taken.