Well Mane Landers, the season is almost upon us. Plenty has been written about the additions Orlando City has made in the off-season in an effort to add some depth to the lineup. After all, depth coming off the bench can make a big difference in a game or a season. So let's take a look back at how those substitutions impacted the 2015 season.
There were eight games in which the Orlando City bench either scored a goal or provided an assist:
March 13, 2015 - @ Houston Dynamo
In the 54th minute, Pedro Ribeiro came in for Carlos Rivas and seemed to score when he took the ball from Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric. However, as they both were going for the ball towards the net, Deric was credited with an own goal. I'm still chalking it up as a goal from the bench, since Pedro was the one that made it possible.
April 12, 2015 - @ Portland Timbers
In the 82nd minute, Rivas came on for Eric Avila. One minute after coming in, Rivas made a run on a long ball into the penalty box where goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey clipped his feet and sent him tumbling for a penalty. Kaká then stepped up and neatly scored on the penalty kick thanks to Rivas' work.
May 2, 2015 - vs. Ponte Preta
Despite being a friendly, this 3-2 match was quite the score-fest. There were two important substitutions in the game: Avila came in for Kevin Molino in the 18th minute, and Sean St. Ledger came in for Seb Hines in the 46th minute. Avila made his mark just before half when his corner kick was put in the back of the goal by Bryan Róchez. He would then get his second assist in the 55th minute when he connected with fellow substitute St. Ledger, who put in a header.
May 30, 2015 - vs. Columbus Crew
Orlando City was down 2-1 when Ribeiro again came on in the 72nd minute. Pedro was able to preserve a point by sending in a blistering shot from distance in the 89th minute, and he almost got the winner in extra time.
June 6, 2015 - @ Chicago Fire
In a very tight match, Cyle Larin came in for Ribeiro in the 66th minute. Then in the 82nd minute, he gathered the ball in traffic, took one move to the side and buried his fifth goal of the season from outside the box.
Sept. 13, 2015 - vs. Sporting Kansas City
This match was the start of a five-game win streak. Róchez came in for Larin in the 57th minute, and Brek Shea came in for Rivas in the 61st minute. Then in the 66th minute, Róchez sent the ball forward along the left side where Shea took it into the box before laying it back to Róchez for the score. It was the goal that put Orlando City back on top for good.
Sept. 19, 2015 - @ Chicago Fire
This match had the ultimate off-the-bench goal. Róchez came in for Adrian Winter in the 70th minute, then Shea came in for Larin in the 71st minute, and finally Darwin Cerén came in for Rivas in the 81st minute. Once all the pieces were on the board, it only took five minutes. In the 86th minute, Shea crossed from the right to Cerén, who tapped it to Róchez for the goal.
Sept. 25, 2015 - @ New York Red Bulls
Despite out-scoring the Red Bulls 5-2, there was only one goal off the bench. Róchez came in for Larin in the 76th minute. Towards the end of extra time, Róchez and Kaká were streaking down the field and, with a quick give-and-go from Róchez to Ricky and back again, the Lions capped off the win.
So what can we take from all of that? Out of 40 matches, there were eight in which there was a goal or assist from a substitute. Of those eight, seven resulted in a win, and one in a draw. Three of the games were at home, and five were away. That's quite a record when a substitute contributes.
Additionally, that means that 15% of all goals scored came off the bench (seven out of 46), and that 15% of all assists were also from substitutes (six out off 39). Orlando City was able to accomplish that with what many thought to be a team in need of depth on the roster. Hopefully, the moves made this off-season will help increase the off-the-bench production and allow the Lions to win more games.
Don't forget to tune in next week for the first installment of Pride Pub for the 2016 season! Vamos Orlando!