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Foul Play: What Has Changed in Terms of Fouls Over the Past Year for Orlando City?

Foul differential from 2015 to 2016 has changed quite a bit for the Lions. What lies behind the change?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Fouls. They're supposed to impact a game. Impact a team's chances. Heck, impact a season. But how much do they really? Let's take a look at the first 13 games of 2015 versus the first 13 games of 2016 for Orlando City, and see if that's true.

First things first. Here are the numbers through the first 13 games of both seasons:

  • In 2015, Orlando City committed 19 fewer fouls than it suffered. The Lions committed a total of 190 fouls versus 209 fouls suffered. Their record through that time was 3 wins, 5 losses and 5 draws.
  • In 2016, Orlando City committed 35 more fouls than it suffered. The Lions committed a total of 188 fouls versus 153 suffered. Their record through that time was 3 wins, 3 losses, and 7 draws.

As we can see, Orlando City has committed many more fouls than fouls suffered so far in 2016 as compared to this point in 2015. Actually, there's a difference of 54 fouls, and that's quite a lot. Common sense would suggest that the Lions would be doing much worse given those numbers...but they're not.

Over that time, Orlando City has the same amount of wins, but two fewer losses, and two more draws. Why is that? It's obviously not the fouls. So what is the difference this season?

Potential reason 1 -

The team is regressing. The club is worse than the inaugural season. Undisciplined and unruly. The Lions are being sloppy in their play, and it's showing on the field and in the stats.

Potential reason 2 -

The team is being more aggressive on the pitch. Perhaps a season in MLS has given the team a more assertive stance. The Lions may be playing to the ball more, attacking, and thus creating more chances for fouls.

Potential reason 3 -

PRO gonna PRO. Come on, you know that we had to go there. But realistically there was a meeting in between seasons where the referees were told to be more exacting in their calls. Whether they have been or not is debatable, but what isn't is that they have been a bit card happy so far this season. And if they're a bit card happy, it follows they may be a bit call happy.

The reality is that it is all of those things, none of those things, and more. Have the Lions regressed? Certainly. There's always going to be a bit of regression as a new club develops. Has Orlando City overcome that? Yes. Are they being a bit more aggressive? Well, yes and no.

As the team develops, the players are able to be more aggressive in a smarter manner than last year. So that does create chances for fouls. Finally, PRO has been PRO. But we already mentioned that. Fortunately, Orlando City has grown enough to overcome the fouls, the early goals, and the injuries to do better so far this season.

So what do you think is the difference?