The MLS Phase 1 schedule saw Orlando City play five of the first six matches in only 15 days. That is a rough stretch for any club, but the Lions did well in earning eight of a possible 15 points. There has been plenty of attention given to the flashier players like Nani, Chris Mueller, and MLS Player of the Month for August Daryl Dike for this success.
I have no problem with that, given the contributions each of those — and other players — have made during this stretch. However, there is one player I feel might get lost in all the attention put on the team, and I think without Uri Rosell, Orlando City might not have been quite as successful.
During the MLS is Back Tournament, Rosell started every match and played the entire 90 minutes plus stoppage in four of those. While he didn’t play as many minutes in Phase 1, he has started each match, and played an average of 62 minutes in the first four matches, and then went the full 90 against Atlanta in the most recent match. Given how much Óscar Pareja has rotated his squad during Phase 1, that type of consistency speaks to how valuable Rosell is to Pareja’s plans.
Statistically, Rosell has also performed very well. Over the five matches he has won five aerials and has amassed 17 tackles, eight interceptions, four clearances, one block, and one key pass. His passing percentages for the matches, in order, were: 90.6%, 94,7%, 86.8%, 91.4%, and 90%. He also completed 17 long balls. Rosell committed nine fouls, and suffered two, without earning a yellow card, let alone a red card. Defensive midfielders are expected to make professional fouls, but they occasionally see a yellow as a result. Being able to play without getting carded speaks to the cleanliness of his challenges.
Rosell goes about his job in a relatively quiet manner. His performances have been described as “workmanlike” for their consistency and effectiveness. The Spaniard has helped the Lions to a +3 goal differential in Phase 1, with Orlando City conceding only seven goals. With the starting lineup rotating around Rosell and Robin Jansson, he has been the glue in the midfield linking the defense to the offense, as can be seen from his number of successful long balls and his passing percentage. He has been particularly effective at forcing the opposition out wide in their attack, all but eliminating any sort of attack up the middle. There’s no better example of this than in the last match against Atlanta, when he earned Man of the Match in both our player grades piece and on The Mane Land PawedCast.
Rosell has obviously won Pareja’s trust, and was even the captain for the 3-1 victory over Atlanta United FC on Aug. 29. Whether it is his experience, his performance during training, or his effort during matches, Rosell has made himself a fixture in Pareja’s tactical plans for the foreseeable future. Heading into the final match of Phase 1 against Inter Miami CF, the Lions will have a normal work week, allowing tired legs some rest. I fully expect that Rosell will continue to start, and be as consistent and successful as he has been all season.