Last December, Orlando City hired Luiz Muzzi as the new Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations. That is a very fancy title that, among other things, decides who stays and who goes when it comes to the players. Yes, James O’Connor obviously has input, as do those Muzzi employs as scouts. However, the buck stops with him.
One purpose of his position is to provide O’Connor with the players he needs to compete for championships. While that is almost certainly not going to happen this season, has he made any progress on that front? Let’s take a look at the players he’s brought in.
In the MLS SuperDraft, Orlando City chose Santiago Patino at No. 3, Kamal Miller at No. 27, Tommy Madden at No. 38, and Scott Devoss at No. 59. Let’s be honest, MLS teams are not typically looking for playing time from players selected after the first round, and certainly not those from the later rounds. However, two of the four players the Lions took have made significant contributions to the season. Patino has 12 shots with three on target, scoring two goals. He’s also added an assist in his 322 minutes of play. On the other side of the pitch, Kamal Miller has seen significant playing time at center back and fullback with 1,170 minutes. That’s a lot of playing time for a rookie — especially a defender.
Let’s turn our attention to the defense. Since Muzzi arrived, Ruan, Alex De John, Brian Rowe, and Robin Jansson have all come on board. Ruan’s speed has been an invaluable addition on both offense and defense. In 1,835 minutes he has contributed five assists to the Lions’ attack. De John might only have 406 minutes, but he has stepped into different positions as needed, and also has one assist. Rowe might not be the keeper that Orlando City faithful dream about, but I don’t believe anyone can honestly say he hasn’t been solid in goal this season. Finally, Jansson has been the find of the century, helping anchor the back line with Lamine Sané. If you’re unsure about his hustle or dedication to the club, go back and watch his performance against Sporting KC on Aug. 14.
Looking at Orlando City’s attack, there haven’t been as many pieces added but two of them are certainly significant. We’ve barely seen what Mauricio Pererya will be able to do for the Lions’ attack, but his quality has been apparent. He has one assist in 151 minutes, but is not yet 90-minutes fit. One thing he has done when on the pitch is allow Nani to move into a wider position, where he is thriving. Nani leads all Orlando City scorers with 12 goals and nine assists in 2,007 minutes, setting a new club MLS-era record for goals plus assists in a season.
Those numbers come on 59 shots with 25 on target. He has captained the club since he arrived, and has adjusted very well to the Florida heat, as well as the rigors of an MLS season. I don’t think I should have to convince you of Nani’s positive impact this year.
This was by no means an exhaustive look at what Muzzi has done regarding personnel. Another key addition was midfielder Sebas Mendez. And it remains to be seen what speedy winger Robinho will do.
Players added means other players must be let go. There are contracts, Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), General Allocation Money (GAM), and Designated Player designations to deal with when building a squad. So far, I think Muzzi’s track record is pretty good, and I look forward to seeing what he can do once he as some more money to use.