He was a relative unknown when Orlando City brought him on in early August, but Yoshimar Yotún has become a household name in Central Florida since then. The Peruvian was an instant game-changer for the Lions, adding some dynamism, creativity, and another engine to the midfield that Orlando had sorely lacked until that point. “Yoshi” was signed as a Designated Player but on a modest salary under $600,000 that could be bought down with Targeted Allocation Money, providing some flexibility from the front office in the off-season.
Yoshi’s versatility to play wide, centrally, and even at left back makes him a unique creator for the Lions going forward.
Yoshi only had the opportunity to make 10 appearances in purple after a late move from Sweden’s Malmö FF, but he made the most of them. In just 887 minutes, Yotún’s four assists were good enough for third on the team, equal with Scott Sutter. Along with his goal, Yoshi was one of the most productive offensive players on the team in fewer than half the matches played.
His 3.5 key passes per game showcase his importance in the Lions’ slight uptick to end the season after a dreadful summer. The midfield flowed through Yoshi and his ability to shuttle the ball between the lines with his feet (1.4 dribbles completed per game) and to feed the forwards directly (6.2 long balls per game) made him the perfect catalyst for an improved offense. His 81.4% passing completion rate put him in the top 10 on the team out of players that made at least 10 appearances.
His ability to put pinpoint passes into the box from wide areas jump-started a stagnant Orlando offense. A first-time cross put the Lions back into contention against the Vancouver Whitecaps and his set piece delivery also got a consolation goal against the Philadelphia Union in the final match of the season.
Yotún struggled a bit defensively and was beaten on the dribble an average of 1.3 times per match — second only to Cristian Higuita — but made up for it with a respectable 1.6 tackles per match, behind only Higuita and Will Johnson among central midfielders. His finishing is also suspect, with only four shots on goal from 16 tries but that’s mainly due to pulling the trigger from distance.
Statistically, Yotún was the most complete midfielder the Lions had at their disposal in 2017.
Orlando’s rout of the Revolution might as well have been the Yoshi show. The Peruvian’s goal and two assists were by far his most productive outing of the season and one of the best single performances the Lions saw all year.
His dead ball delivery sparked the scoring when Antonio Nocerino’s toe redirected a free kick past Revs keeper Cody Cropper. Just a few minutes later, a corner from Yoshi found Seb Hines’ head to double the lead. Yotún then put the final nail in the coffin with a bouncing strike from distance for the final goal of the evening.
An astounding six key passes on the night means two assists is actually low for what could have been; combined with an 83.9% pass completion percentage and the most fouls suffered on the team (four) made for a complete offensive performance. Defensively, he was third on the team in total tackles and fourth in interceptions.
Final 2017 Grade
The Mane Land staff came to a consensus 7.5 for Yoshi. Even with just 10 games under his belt, his impact was unmistakable. Yoshi was consistently a step above most players on the pitch with fantastic vision and the ability to contribute on both ends of the pitch. Yotún hit the ground running and made an impact as soon as he landed stateside.
Yoshi should be a centerpiece for the Lions going into next season in his box-to-box role. Hopefully some reinforcements to the midfield and offense around him will elevate the team to that next level. Yotún has all of the ability to be a key cog in a playoff team but can he shoulder the load on a weekly basis? If the front office can put the right pieces around him in the midfield, the Peruvian international can be a cornerstone of this squad for years.
Previous 2017 Player Season in Review Posts (Date Published)
- Kaká (10/25).