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2020 Orlando City Season in Review: Chris Mueller

It was the best season yet for one of Orlando City’s top attacking players.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLS season was Chris Mueller’s third for Orlando City. The 2018 first-round MLS SuperDraft pick has improved each year, becoming a key part of the Lions’ attack. This past season was Mueller’s best since being drafted by the club, resulting in a call-up to the United States Men’s National Team following the season.

Mueller made headlines with his play during the MLS is Back Tournament. He continued that stellar play when the MLS season returned, helping the Lions reach their first MLS Cup playoff appearance.

Here’s a look at Mueller’s overall 2020 MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Mueller played in 22 regular season games this season, starting 17, and recorded 1,477 minutes. He scored 10 goals in those games and assisted seven times, putting 19 of his 36 shots on target. He wasn’t booked at all this season and committed just 12 fouls while drawing 33. He completed 447 of his 517 passes for a success rate of 86.5% and he created 28 scoring chances for his teammates. Defensively, he finished the season with 21 tackles, eight interceptions, nine clearances, and a blocked shot.

The 24-year-old started all four of the Lions’ knockout stage games of the MLS is Back Tournament, playing 266 minutes. After scoring three goals in the team’s first two games of the tournament, he was kept off the scoresheet in the final four games and he did not register an assist, attempting just four shots but not getting any on target. The playmaker completed 81 of his 97 passes, or 83.5%, during the knockout stages of the tournament. He had one tackle, three interceptions, six clearances and a block. He committed five fouls and suffered four, without seeing a card in the knockout rounds.

Mueller was also kept off the scoresheet during the team’s two playoff games against New York City FC and the New England Revolution. He started both games and played 167 minutes, recording two shots with one on target. In the two most important games of the season, Mueller completed 42 of his 53 pass attempts for a 79.2% pass completion percentage. He had three tackles and a clearance in the postseason, committing one foul while drawing four.

Best Game

Mueller’s best game this season came early in the year. In the second game of the MLS is Back Tournament against New York City FC, on July 14, he scored twice inside the first 10 minutes of the game. He nearly netted a first-half hat trick, but his possible third goal ricocheted off the crossbar.

His brace started in just the fourth minute, when Mueller ran onto a free kick delivery by Joao Moutinho and took his shot on the volley.

Just six minutes later, he scored his second of the night, taking a headed cross from Dom Dwyer and touching it deftly around NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson before slotting home to make it 2-0.

He finished the game with five shots, putting four on target. He created one scoring chance and passed at an 89.5% rate. It was a big performance for the team as it helped to lift the Lions into the knockout stages of the tournament. Mueller was given a rating of 8 for his performance and was named Man of the Match by The Mane Land and our readers.

2020 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Mueller a composite grade of 7.5. That’s a significant increase from the past two years, in which he was given a 6 both in his rookie year of 2018 and again in his sophomore season of 2019. The 2020 MLS season was a step in the right direction for Mueller as he reached career highs in goals and assists. His play during the season was so noticeable that he caught the attention of USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, resulting in his first call-up. In his USMNT debut, he officially recorded two goals and an assist against El Salvador and set up a fourth goal.

2021 Outlook

Orlando City exercised Mueller’s option for 2021, ensuring that he’ll be returning next year. The improvement between 2019 and 2020 is a promising sign that the attacker can reach new heights during 2021. He’ll once again be one of the most important attackers, alongside Daryl Dike, Nani, and Mauricio Pereyra.

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