One of just six players left from Orlando City’s USL days, Luke Boden saw his numbers of minutes and overall form drop in 2016.
Boden started the season at No. 2 on the depth chart at left back for the Lions before moving up to the starting role when Brek Shea was converted back to the midfield midway through the season.
After appearing in 25 games and playing over 2,200 minutes for Orlando City in 2015, Boden only appeared in 20 games (19 starts), playing just over 1,600 minutes this past season. While the 27-year-old Englishman didn’t score this season, he did assist on goals three times, one less than his season total from last year.
Boden also saw a drop in yellow cards this year, going from six to just two, and also cut his red card 100 percent from one to zero. In all, he only fouled 19 times, compared to 26 last year.
Boden’s biggest strength for the club is his passing ability out on the left wing, especially his tendency to send balls into the box through the air. Only Matias Perez Garcia (1.4) averaged more passes per game than Boden on the club this season, sending in 1.2 per game, according to WhoScored.com. His 1.2 key passes per game was also good for fourth best on the club.
On the defensive side of the ball, Boden averaged just 1.1 tackles per game, 18th on the team, and 1.9 interceptions, which earned him a much higher place in the squad at eighth. Defense, of course, is not one of Boden’s biggest attributes.
It’s kind of tough picking a game for Boden, especially as left backs typically don’t have game-changing performances all that often. So, it’s more difficult to pick a game based off of memory that really stood out. But since I had to pick, I’ll go with Orlando City’s 2-1 loss to Toronto FC at home in August. The Lions lost the game, but Boden assisted on the lone goal and was a factor on the offensive side of the ball throughout the night.
Here’s what our own Michael Citro wrote about him in his player grades for the match:
Bodz got lots of help tonight defensively as Orlando shifted left to crowd the right side of Toronto’s attack – something Greg Vanney talked about after the game. His 82.5% passing was decent, his five interceptions quite good, and his cross on Cyle Larin’s goal was superb. He led the game with 115 touches, but a lot of that was short back-and-forth passing with Kaká in non-threatening spots.
2016 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff has spoken and given Boden a 5 overall grade for the year. His total playing time dipped, and was arguably out-played by the youngster Mikey Ambrose through the last few months of the season. Boden’s slow pace hinders his ability to handle much faster wingers and attacking players in the league, which of course hurts Orlando City on defense.
I’m not going to lie to you guys. I, personally, don’t see Boden sticking around this winter if Jason Kreis decides to make wholesale changes to the club — or at least the defense. Like I said, Boden lacks pace and it hurts his overall defensive game. He’s a quality attacking left back, but there might be more value for Orlando City in starting Ambrose — or finding a higher quality left back altogether — next season. Either way, I can only see Boden’s playing time, primarily his number of starts, dropping again in 2017 if he stays with the club.