Orlando City selected Joey DeZart with the 31st pick of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft back on Jan. 9. The New Jersey-born Jamaican wasn’t expected to play much with the first team, but in a season where squad rotation was more important than ever, and injuries plagued the midfield at times, DeZart, a one-time member of the Philadelphia Union academy, became a solid role player for the Lions. How did he fare in his maiden voyage in professional soccer?
DeZart played in 12 matches, including four starts, playing a total of 380 minutes. His debut came during the MLS is Back tournament round of 16 against Montreal, where he made a brief seven-minute cameo. In his 11 regular-season appearances, he played over 60 minutes only four times, including going the full 90 against Atlanta United on Oct. 8. He didn’t register a goal or assist in 2020, but he did complete a very respectable 83.4% of his passes. He attempted two shots, putting one on target. Defensively, his stats were fairly underwhelming, with five interceptions and three successful tackles on four attempts.
He also made two appearances for Orlando City B during a brief September loan spell.
It’s hard to say what DeZart’s standout performance was given how similar all of his starts were, but for me it’s his full 90-minute performance against Atlanta in a forgettable 0-0 draw. Both teams played lackluster lineups, with no Designated Players in either team’s starting 11, so it wasn’t the biggest stage for DeZart, but he was up to the challenge regardless. He had a season high in completed passes (52) and touches (71) while also contributing a little defensively with one clearance and three ball recoveries. Our Dave Rohe gave DeZart a rating of 6 in our match player grades.
The rookie did well given the amount of playing time he’s had. His performance wasn’t mistake free, but he accorded himself well. He took one shot at goal in the 91st minute but Guzan was able to grab it. He attempted 61 passes with an 83.6% passing rate, and attempted one long ball.
2020 Final Grade
Expectations were low for DeZart, as is typical for any draft pick after the first round, and he met them in stride. He wasn’t expected to play much, and when he did he was good, if unspectacular. It was far from a breakout campaign but it set the ground for a solid career. The Mane Land staff gave DeZart a composite grade of 5 for a solid rookie season.
DeZart had his option picked up for 2021 and looks to be a part of the first team picture heading into next season. He’s still down the pecking order, and with the permanent transfer of Andres Perea, the competition will remain stiff in midfield. Hopefully he can continue to improve his game and find more ways to contribute on the first team.