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2020 Orlando City Season in Review: Júnior Urso

A look at the Bear’s first season with the Lions.

SOCCER: NOV 29 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal - New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Júnior Urso was acquired from Brazilian side Corinthians prior to the 2020 season. The veteran midfielder was listed on Orlando City’s Wikipedia page for quite a while before the official announcement was made. While that took away from the surprise of the signing, it didn’t diminish the excitement.

The Bear got off to a slow start in his time at Orlando City, but following the MLS is Back tournament really showed his quality. He became a consistent starter and contributor to the Lions’ success. Urso is the attack-minded type of central midfielder that Óscar Pareja likes to employ in his system. Let’s take a look at the veteran midfielder’s 2020 season.

Statistical Breakdown

Urso played in 23 league games this season, started in 20 of those games, and accumulated 1,708 minutes on the field. As an attacking midfielder, Urso is expected to connect the defense to the offense, and to contribute to the Lions’ attack. During the regular season he took 33 shots with 13 on goal. He contributed three goals and two assists, creating 12 scoring chances and passing at an 88% rate. Defensively, he finished with 39 tackles, 20 interceptions, 17 clearances, and four blocks. The crafty veteran midfielder committed 27 fouls and drew 39 from the opposition, earning just three yellow cards on the year.

He only appeared in two of the MLS is Back Tournament knockout round matches as a substitute, due to an injury sustained against Philadelphia in the group stage. He played just 42 minutes and didn’t score but he did provide one assist against Minnesota United — his first assist as a Lion. He attempted no shots, passed at an 82.6% rate and created one scoring chance. He contributed two tackles and an interception on the defensive end and committed two fouls while sustaining one, without being booked.

Urso started and played every minute of both playoff matches, for a total of 210 minutes due to the extra time in the match against New York City FC. He scored his first playoff goal against New England in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but did not register an assist. Urso attempted three shots in the postseason, getting one on frame. He didn’t create any scoring chances but passed at an 83.5% rate. Defensively, he registered four tackles and two interceptions — all of those against NYCFC. He committed two fouls and drew three, picking up a yellow card against the Revs.

Best Game

Urso had several good games including the final playoff match against New England. He earned Man of the Match honors from The Mane Land in our player grades for the match, and from both Michael Citro and myself on The Mane Land PawedCast. However, his best game came in the 3-1 win over Atlanta United FC on Aug. 29. If not for a spectacular match by Chris Mueller on his birthday, Urso would have won the Man of the Match. The Bear scored his first goal of the season in the 13th minute.

He also did a great job to win the ball back late in the match, and get the assist on Nani’s goal.

Urso shot twice, getting one on frame, passed at an 81.3% rate, and connected on both of his long ball attempts. Defensively, he finished with two tackles, one interception, and one clearance.

2020 Final Grade

During the season, Urso averaged just below 6.5 in The Mane Land’s player grades pieces. Who knows what may have been if 2020 had been a normal year, or if he hadn’t gotten hurt during the MLS is Back Tournament, but The Mane Land staff gave the Bear a composite final grade of 6.5. Some of the staff would like for Urso to convert more of his shots into actual goals, and there is room for improvement in that area. However, as the grade reflects, the staff was impressed with the Bear’s first year in Orlando.

2021 Outlook

Urso is under contract for the 2021 season, and we know he will return barring something unforeseen. The Bear had a successful year for the Lions, and with another preseason and hopefully a more normal regular season, I expect no drop-off in Urso’s performance. In fact, he may put up better numbers, as Orlando City will be a club returning the vast majority of players. Familiarity with his fellow players and Pareja’s system offers a golden chance for improvement.

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