Carlos Rivas has the ball at his feet as two defenders step up to meet him, entering the final third. Rivas kicks the ball out wide to Giles Barnes. Kaká makes the overlapping run and Barnes plays the DP the ball. Approaching the end line, Kaká hits the ball first time to a wide-open Matias Perez Garcia. All MPG has to do is redirect the ball. He finds the back of the net, and opens up his Orlando City account. In what was a great team goal, it will go down in history as MPG’s first, and only, goal in purple.
He was a fan favorite who seemed to always win free kicks for his team. The Argentinean was someone who came in and provided energy for Orlando. But with his contract running up, Orlando City decided to waive him.
The decision, like most decisions in sports, came with controversy. If he did all of the things mentioned above, then how could the Lions not re-sign him? After all, he was part of a midfield that is led by the league’s highest-paid player, but has been nothing short of disappointing for most of the matches in the past month or two.
Yes, the Argentine brought energy to the team, won free kicks, and was better than most other midfielders on the Lions’ roster. But first, take at look at his numbers. In 28 games, MPG has just one goal and four assists. As an attacking midfielder, at his salary level, those numbers are awful. To put it in perspective, look at the chart below, which shows goals and assists in 2017.
Orlando City Goals & Assists in 2017
|Matías Pérez García||15||1||2|
This lack in performance led to MPG being Head Coach Jason Kreis’ third option, behind Kaká and Barnes. Granted, he did produce more than Luis Gil and Cristian Higuita, who both have yet to record a goal or assist in 2017, MPG was being paid almost double what each of them are.
This leads to the next point: money vs. production. MPG was a bad investment. He did many things well, and in an ideal world the Lions would have re-signed him. But not at his current contract. The former San Jose DP and the Orlando front office could not agree on how much he was worth. This means that, most likely, Orlando wanted to cut his salary while MPG wanted a similar, or even slightly higher, contract.
While $260,000 is not even close to the highest in the league, or even on the team, it is too much to spend on someone who is not the first option nor producing off the bench.
Additionally, when he came off the bench, the team rarely got the motivation they needed. Players like Kaká, Barnes, Gil, and even Richie Laryea provided a bigger spark off the bench than MPG did.
Opting not to re-sign the Argentine also gives the Lions chances to make other moves. There have been talks of 24-year-old Colombian Juan Quintero joining Orlando City, who could be a better fit than MPG.
Letting MPG walk certainly was not an easy decision for Orlando, but a necessary one. While he was the first player that Kreis brought in, it ultimately was not a successful move. Looking to the future, not re-signing MPG gives the team more options to improve than if he were still on the team.