Jonathan Spector transferred from Birmingham City in the English Football League Championship division (England’s second-highest football league) to Orlando City on Jan. 24, 2017. Spector made an immediate impact on the quality of Orlando City’s back line, starting the first 21 games prior to suffering a knee injury during training. Spector became the clear leader of the back line with his ability to get himself and his teammates into the proper position, a knack for clearing the ball, and his play in the air.
Spector played in 25 games, starting in all of them, and accumulated 2,176 minutes for Orlando City this season. On defense, Spector had 25 tackles, 52 interceptions, 14 blocked shots, and 34 aerials won. On offense, he had six shots on goal, and scored one goal — the tying tally late against the Montreal Impact on June 17 in a 3-3 draw. He completed 82.1% of his passes.
Aug. 6, 2017 was Spector’s last game before he was injured, and he wouldn’t return for six weeks. The injury and the amount of time off took a toll on his fitness, and he wasn’t the same in the last four matches for Orlando City.
Although he scored his only goal of the season in that home draw against the Montreal Impact, Spector had some breakdowns on the defensive side in that game. His best match of the year came in April, during a stretch of games where Spector could have been the Man of the Match in any one of them. We chose the one on April 9, when he had three interceptions, five clearances, and two blocked shots in a 1-0 home win over the New York Red Bulls. One of the blocked shots was a goal-line stop in the 12th minute after Joe Bendik had made the initial save. It wasn’t just his statistics that game, but how he led the back line, including pairing with Tommy Redding and providing direction for the younger center back. Spector won our Man of the Match for his efforts.
Final 2017 Grade
The Mane Land staff graded Spector at a 7.5 rating for the season. Given the season that the Lions had, it’s certainly one of the higher grades you’ll see on this team. Keep in mind that Spector was out for a over a month while the team was struggling. Once he returned, it was apparent that he wasn’t quite back to the form he had during the early part of the season. Regardless, Spector was a welcome addition to the Lions, particularly on defense.
There is no doubt that Spector will be back and will be a very important piece of the Orlando City defense next season. It’s even possible that he could wear the captain’s armband. If he is healthy, he will start and will likely play most of the minutes, barring Orlando City having a healthy lead late in a game. Expect Spector to continue his leadership and mentor role for the others on the back line.