What do you do when technical gremlins prevent the completion of this week’s PawedCast and you’re stuck in the house waiting for a hurricane to pass by? Well, if you’re like me, you start looking at numbers – statistics, salaries, or any other numerical representation of your favorite team.
In the spirit of such a walk through the numbers that I thought, “how inexpensively could Orlando City line up on the field for an MLS game?” And then that inevitably led to wondering about the team’s most expensive lineup. Let’s take a look at both.
*Methodology: For this exercise, I looked at the latest MLS salaries released by the Players’ Union, and used the “total compensation” column rather than just the base salary for each player. I also used the standard 4-2-3-1 lineup that the club has preferred through two seasons of MLS play and only the players listed under MLS contracts. As a final condition for consideration, the player had to have previously appeared in an MLS or U.S. Open Cup match to make the cut, so a less expensive player like Mason Stajduhar (for example) wouldn’t qualify despite making fewer dollars than Earl Edwards Jr.
**It should be noted that the players don’t necessarily make the salaries shown. Some may still be receiving money from their former clubs. But these are the best numbers we have to work with, so I guess we’re stuck with an imperfect system and just go with whatever the club is on the hook for, officially.
If the Lions wanted to put out a bargain-bin lineup on the field, it might look something like this:
Goalkeeper: Earl Edwards Jr. ($52,500)
Defenders: Mikey Ambrose ($62,496), Tommy Redding ($102,500), Conor Donovan ($118,000), Tyler Turner ($62,000)
Defensive Midfielders: Harrison Heath ($63,000), Tony Rocha ($62,496)
Attacking Midfielders: Pedro Ribeiro ($63,000), Julio Baptista ($90,000), Hadji Barry ($67,062.50)
Forward: Carlos Rivas ($80,000),
For an average of just $74,823.13 per position on the field, and a total of $823,054.50, Orlando City could field an entire starting XI from its pool of MLS contract players. The biggest weakness with this lineup is obviously inexperience, especially in the back. Several of these players have shown some true promise, but it’s safe to say that the above back line and defensive midfield pairing in front of someone lacking league experience in goal would give most coaches heartburn.
The attacking part of the lineup looks a bit better. Carlos Rivas is as good a crosser of the ball as there is on the roster and his speed creates problems for the defense. He could play either on the wing or as a striker, so there’s some versatility and he could swap places with rookie Hadji Barry if needed. Julio Baptista could also play up top, with Rivas at left wing and Barry on the right. Pedro Ribeiro can play any midfield position or could also be a striker if need be.
This team could score, but probably wouldn’t stop many teams from finding the back of the net until the defensive players become more seasoned.
To put out a pricey lineup to show off like 11 pieces of bling, Orlando City could lineup like this:
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik ($147,667.67)
Defenders: Brek Shea ($595,000), Jose Aja ($192,000), David Mateos ($453,333.33), Seb Hines ($150,000)
Defensive Midfielders: Antonio Nocerino ($650,000), Servando Carrasco ($99.625)
Attacking Midfielders: Kevin Molino ($121,400), Kaká ($7,167,500), Matias Perez Garcia ($250,000)
Forward: Cyle Larin ($177,000)
Well, this looks like a fairly familiar lineup. Shea has since been pulled from the back line since Adrian Heath was relieved of his coaching duties, but he’s got experience at fullback, as does Hines, a pricier option than Kevin Alston or Luke Boden. Bendik is a mainstay in the Orlando City goal, and the Nocerino/Carrasco tandem in central midfield has been Jason Kreis’ first choice. Molino, Kaká, and MPG behind Larin is the usual starting attack. It’s important to note that Richie Laryea makes more money than Molino, so if he hadn’t spent the season with Orlando City B, he’d have actually made this lineup.
This isn’t far off from what the Lions normally use, and this starting XI costs $10,003,526 in total and an average of $909,411.45. That’s nearly a cool million per position, although that’s largely inflated by Kaká’s league-leading salary north of $7 million.
There’s not too much need to describe the strengths and weaknesses of this lineup because we’ve witnessed them for the most part. Obviously fullback play would be an issue with Shea being too inconsistent defensively and Hines not able to get forward into the attack. Age is a factor, with Nocerino, Kaká, and MPG all north of 30 and six players in all at least 28 years old.
When you consider how much of the “Luxury Model” lineup above is the actual regular Orlando City personnel and how costly it is, it becomes clear that the club’s money has not been spent as wisely as it could be, considering the on-the-field results. Some changes will need to be made, regardless of Kreis’ recent remarks about how the attacking personnel is of sufficient quality.
This club must get more bang for its buck, whether that means young players from the “Going Cheap” lineup above stepping up and taking starting jobs or churning the roster.
What do you make of these lineups and their cost? What do these potential lineups say about the club’s makeup? Let me know your thoughts below.