After an eight-match unbeaten streak, and with Orlando City leading the Eastern Conference with 25 goals — despite playing to a scoreless draw on Sunday — I thought it would be a good time to look at the Lions’ offense since the club left the MLS is Back Tournament. Orlando City currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and is at the beginning of a match-heavy schedule for October. How has the club gotten here, and where will the goals come from going forward?
Since the restart, five different Lions have scored multiple goals. Daryl Dike has three, Nani has three, Chris Mueller has three, Júnior Urso has two, and Benji Michel leads the pack with four. Picking up the remaining three goals are Mauricio Pereyra, Tesho Akindele, and “own goal,” with one each.
Through the entire season, including the first two matches at the beginning of 2020, or what is now known as the Jurassic period, Orlando City has scored 25 goals and conceded 15. That is a goal differential of +10. Since the restart, Orlando City has scored 18 of those 25 goals, and conceded 10 goals for a +8 goal differential. Those are excellent statistics regardless of the timeframe.
It is easier to score goals when getting quality assists, and Orlando City is doing well on that front as well, as four Lions have multiple assists since the restart. Mueller and Pereyra are tied with four assists each, while both Dike and Nani have two apiece. Urso, Michel, Ruan, Joao Moutinho, and Andres Perea have also chipped in with assists.
Scoring goals is great, but how have the Lions done against the competition? Over the last nine matches, Orlando City has attempted 113 shots versus 116 for the opponents. However, in shots on goal, the Lions have 39 to the opponents’ 34. That means Orlando City’s shots on goal to total shots is at 35% versus 29% for the competition. Basically, the Lions have been much more accurate shooting the ball.
The eyeball test shows us that Orlando City is much quicker transitioning and counter attacking than they have been since 2015. The team consistently averages over 80% passing, and it has translated into a beautiful, effective, and speedy transition up the pitch both on counterattacks and when working out of the back. This is a product of Óscar Pareja’s effort to have Orlando City be the protagonists of the club’s story and the results produced in matches.
Looking ahead to the next few matches, it’s important that the Lions continue to score multiple goals. Coming out of the bubble, Dike and Mueller were the hot scorers, but both cooled off, with Dike getting downright cold. Nani, Pereyra, and Urso have scored the occasional goal, which is to be expected given where they play in the system. The most consistent scorer has been Michel. Given the squad rotation that Pareja has to employ given the quick match turnarounds in October, which players will score for the Lions? The answer is the same it’s been for the last nine games...by committee.
Orlando City has done an excellent job of having different players step up throughout the season to score goals when needed, and I fully expect that to continue going forward. Guessing which player will score in any given match is as futile as me guessing the score lines on The Mane Land PawedCast. Regardless, Pareja has to like the variety of options he has on offense, and so do I.