The Peruvian national team plays in its last game of the 2018 World Cup today. After losing each of its first two games, 1-0 to Denmark and France, Peru has nothing to play for except pride today. For Peru this is obviously heartbreaking, but for Orlando City it is a blessing.
The media and fans alike have been talking about Dom Dwyer’s importance to Orlando City. In just 10 games, Dwyer has seven goals and one assist but with him also comes wins. The Lions went winless in the first three games of the season when Dom was out due to a hamstring injury. The forward then returned in Week 4 against New York Red Bulls and Orlando City proceeded to go on a six-game win streak. After a 2-1 loss to Atlanta United, Dwyer then missed the next three games with a lower body injury and that is when the losing streak began.
With Dwyer in the lineup, Orlando is 6-4-0 this season and has scored 20 goals. In the six games with out Dwyer, Orlando is 0-5-1 and has been outscored 12-4.
Dwyer’s impact is clear, but hidden in those stats is the effect of Yoshimar Yotún. Yoshi started the first 10 matches of the season before first picking up a suspension for yellow card accumulation and then leaving for international duty, and he has played all but nine minutes in those 10 games. The Lions are 6-3-1 with Yoshi on the field and much of the game seems to revolve around him. Yoshi leads the team in assists (4) and has the second-most goals (3) — Chris Mueller, Cristian Higuita, and Sacha Kljestan also have three goals but have all played in at least 11 matches.
Yotún’s impact goes even further than just goals and assists, though. Playing in just 63% of Orlando’s games this MLS season, the Peruvian has attempted the second-most passes among all Lions and has an 84% passing accuracy. Additionally, Orlando City has scored only four goals this season when Yoshi has not been on the field. He also has the ability to play in central midfield, left midfield, and left back. Going beyond the stats, Yoshi’s left foot is one of the best in MLS, he has great vision, and can place the ball seemingly anywhere he wishes — all of which were on display in the play below. He is also Orlando’s set piece taker, on which he has scored or assisted on five goals this season.
So, while Jason Kreis was fired for Orlando City’s poor run of form, maybe, at the end of the day, the Lions were simply missing their most important player. Only time will tell what sort of impact Yotún will have, but it should be a massive boost to the entire team.
Assuming that he plays today, the midfielder will have played in three games in one and a half weeks and six games since May 30. Combined with traveling back from Russia, regardless of when Yoshi gets to Orlando it is unlikely that he will feature against Atlanta this Saturday. Instead, expect to see him when the Lions travel to California to take on Los Angeles FC on July 7.
By that time, Mohamed El-Munir and Cristian Higuita will be back in the squad after serving suspensions and Orlando could possibly have a new head coach hired. It has been dark times recently in Orlando, but the return of Yotún could help put an end to this losing streak and get the Lions back to winning ways.