It’s no secret that Orlando City’s first two seasons in MLS have been marred by bad defensive performances.
In 2015, the Lions narrowly missed out on the postseason after allowing 56 goals, a mark that was better than only three other teams league wide, all of which let in 58. This past season, City finished two spots outside the playoffs in the East after conceding a league-worst 60 goals. Suffice it to say, Orlando went into this off-season in need of reinforcements at the back.
After signing mid-summer addition José Aja to a four-year deal, the Lions are now reportedly close to signing Ligue 1 center back Grégory Sertic from Bordeaux. With the impending addition of Sertic sounding like a matter of time, we can now take a look at how the French-Croatian stacks up statistically with Orlando City’s center backs from 2016.
The Lions relied on four primary center backs in ’16, one of which — Seb Hines — won’t be back in 2017. Hines played the most minutes of any City CB last year with 2,105, followed by David Mateos’ 1,760, and Tommy Redding’s 1,348. Aja, who was added in late July, registered 830 minutes down the stretch of the campaign.
2016 Orlando City Center Backs
|Seb Hines||26 (23)||2.2||4.2||1.9||1.5||3||0|
|David Mateos||21 (20)||2.9||3.5||1.4||1.5||0||0|
|Tommy Redding||16 (14)||2||2.8||1.4||0.6||0||0|
|Jose Aja||10 (9)||2.4||4.6||1.9||1.6||0||0|
Sertic, who has appeared in 14 of Bordeaux’s 18 Ligue 1 games this season to date, has made 13 starts, six of which have come at center back, and another four of which came as a defensive midfielder. So far, the Croatian is averaging 1.3 tackles per match to go along with 1.4 interceptions and 3.9 clearances. He plays a fairly clean game, averaging less than a foul per outing, and his crisp 84.2% passing success rate puts him up with Redding and Mateos in that category among City central defenders.
While Redding was in Adrian Heath’s favor early in the 2016 season, José Aja got the nod under new Head Coach Jason Kreis in the latter stages of the season. His size and aerial ability would seem like a natural complement to Sertic’s ability to play the ball on the ground. Both defenders like to play long balls — 3.9 per game this season for Sertic vs. 5.3 last season for Aja — and Sertic brings an ability to distribute from the back and a knack for shooting from outside the box and on set pieces.
We’re a ways away from the March 5 opener against NYCFC, but the (likely) addition of Sertic seems like a good one on the surface for a side that has struggled to keep opponents from scoring in its first two years in MLS.