clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Orlando City Confident in Mauricio Pereyra

New, comments

Expectations are high for midfielder Mauricio Pereyra’s first full season in Orlando.

SOCCER: AUG 23 MLS - Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2020 Orlando City squad will include a number of new players, in addition to a new coaching staff. But, one key player that will be returning is midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. It will be the second year in Orlando for the 29-year-old Uruguayan and the team is expecting a breakout season from him.

Orlando City signed Pereyra at the end of July from Russian club Krasnodar. While much was expected from the player, he came in at a difficult time.

“I think that last year he came into a situation that wasn’t ideal for him,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. “As he said, he was training, but he was training to get ready to get into preseason mode. He wasn’t coming into preseason. He was coming into a place that was already playing. Everybody was at 80, 85 percent, and he was at 40.”

“Last year, it was difficult to adapt without the preseason,” Pereyra added. “This year is good, not just for me, but for everybody to start together in the preseason. With the new players, we start to know each other.”

Pereyra is expected to mainly play in the middle of the field. When talking about the lack of offensive production in 2019, Head Coach Oscar Pareja said it was as much about the build-up as the finishing. The team needs to create better chances for its forwards and Pereyra will be expected to contribute this upcoming season.

“He’s a player that has a lot of control in the middle of the field,” Pareja said about his midfielder. “He’s very smart and he reads the game.”

“He’s a tremendous player,” Muzzi added. “He understands the game, very skillful, very fluid in his actions, amazing vision. He sees things that other guys are not seeing.”

Muzzi said that part of Pereyra’s trouble last season was acclimating to a team that was not at the same level. “He was making a pass that would’ve been a great pass, but his teammate was not ready for that. He wasn’t expecting that.”

Now that Pereyra has spent an entire preseason with the team and gotten to know the players, Muzzi and Pareja say Orlando City fans will get to see the player they’ve desired. “I think that this year we’re going to have the opportunity to see the ‘full Mauricio’,” Muzzi said. “We expect great things from him this year.”

While his on-field play is highly anticipated, it’s not the only thing the team is expecting from the midfielder. Orlando City has brought in a lot of new players along with a new coaching staff for 2020. As one of the few veteran returning players, Pereyra will be expected to take on a leadership role.

“I think that Mauricio has that leadership that we need,” Pareja said. The Lions’ boss indicated that the midfielder will likely take on the vice-captaincy role this season as one of its primary leaders. “Mauricio, with his experience, is able to help with the ideas that we want to develop.”

“I think because of my age and experience in Europe, I need to take these responsibilities,” Pereyra said. “We have important players like Nani and [Dom] Dwyer that have more time than me here in the team. But if I can help the team with some advice for the young players. I will be ready to do that.”

Pereyra came to Orlando with a lot of hype and expectation. The late start in 2019 made any impact a tall task last season. But the whole club is expecting to see a game-changing player this year.