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How Jonathan Spector Has Already Solidified Orlando City’s Defense

The 31-year-old veteran wasted no time adapting to MLS and has so far been one of the most effective defenders in the league.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

When Orlando City SC signed veteran Jonathan Spector to strengthen its back line for the 2017 Major League Soccer season fans were excited, but also cautious, asking themselves a fair question: how fast will he adjust to MLS after an entire career in England?

After only two matches, the 31-year-old veteran seems to have cleared any question marks regarding his signing. Spector led the Lions’ defense in the challenging tests against New York City FC and Philadelphia Union, helping the team earn six points while conceding only one goal over the two games.

His performances also guaranteed him a spot on the MLS Team of the Week after both matches.

Spector’s 13 years of experience in the English Premier League were vital to his quick transition to MLS. He has been a vocal leader on Orlando City’s back line and has also thrived with his smart positioning.

Thanks to his instinctive qualities, the former Birmingham City man ranks second in the league in clearances, averaging 11.5 per game. Spector also leads Orlando City’s roster in interceptions, with 2.5 per match.

It also helped that he found a player that complements his skills: Uruguayan Jose Aja. At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Aja usually matches up with the opposition’s biggest forward, leaving the 6-foot and 167-pound Spector free to intercept passes or provide cover.

Besides all his defensive effort, the new Orlando City center back is also doing well on something that most would not expect: his passing skills. Spector is not only the Lions’ fifth most effective distributor, with 75.8% of his passes completed (considering the players who were on the field in both matches), but he also initiated the play of the first goal against the Union with an amazing long ball to Carlos Rivas.

Obviously, the year is just starting and a lot can happen during the next 32 matches of the regular season, but Spector has arguably exceeded expectations in his first two games in Orlando City’s uniform.