Servando Carrasco had been a key rotation player for Orlando City in his first season and a half, but in 2017 the team saw an influx of central midfielders and Servando wasn’t able to break into the lineup down the stretch.
Carrasco was a fixture to begin the season, appearing in eight of the first 11 matches. He would only appear in eight more throughout the rest of the year. His 833 minutes played was his lowest total in purple, fewer than half of his 2,001 in 2016. Most of those minutes came with Cristian Higuita sidelined and Will Johnson playing at right back to begin the year, leaving Servando and Antonio Nocerino to man the midfield. It went well for the Lions, as they ground out tenuous victories. But with the introductions of Yoshimar Yotun and Johnson to the midfield, it just wasn’t in the cards for Serva to see the field.
Carrasco was his usual self when he did make an appearance, with 1.5 tackles per game and 1.3 interceptions, but there was a decline in his production from last year combined with his lack of playing time. He finished no better than 10th on the team in any of the major defensive categories. He was still effective with his passing, however, with an 87.6% rate, tied with Higuita for best percentage on the squad.
He hit a low in the club’s second victory over D.C. United when he was only on the pitch for half an hour before he saw red and was ejected. The good news for Carrasco is that his single goal — only the second in his MLS career — also happened to be the game-winner against the New York Red Bulls.
Servando was very good at what he did to start the year, holding down the fort in midfield and surviving the regular onslaught of attackers. But the win against the Red Bulls may squarely rest on Carrasco’s shoulders.
He came on as a substitute just 17 minutes into the match for an injured Antonio Nocerino and kept his form up with three tackles, three interceptions, and an 82.6% passing rate. He also happened to score the lone goal:
He even created another chance on the day in one of his best performances in a purple shirt.
Final 2017 Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Servando a 5 for his performances in 2017. Carrasco was unspectacular when he saw the pitch but put in workmanlike performances. Always the useful rotation player, Carrasco was exactly the type of MLS veteran to rely on when called upon.
Servando was one of the casualties of roster cuts at the end of the year when his contract option was not exercised by the club. There is a potential that Carrasco could return for 2018, but with his 2017 cap hit already a shade under $115,000, there may not be a lot of room to negotiate for the veteran midfielder. It’s possible his time with Orlando City will end after two and a half seasons.