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2021 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso

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Despite a disappointing ending, it was another strong season for the Bear.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Junior Urso started in Orlando City’s midfield for the second consecutive season in 2021. The Brazilian initially signed with the Lions on Jan. 13, 2020 and quickly became a key member of back-to-back playoff teams.

Let’s take a look at how Urso did during the 2021 MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Urso took part in 30 of the Lions’ 34 MLS regular-season games with 29 starts and recorded 2,493 minutes. All three numbers are an increase from his 2020 season, which saw the midfielder play 23 games with 20 starts and 1,708 minutes. However, he played every game in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Playing seven more games, Urso increased some of his offensive stats this year, recording four goals, one assist, 47 shots, and 14 shots on target. Urso completed 1,150 of his 1,314 passes (87.5%) this season, which resulted in a slight decrease in passing percentage from 2020 (88%).

Defensively, Urso compiled 52 tackles, 37 interceptions, 25 clearances, and five blocks. He also won 56.2% of his 313 midfield duels. All of Urso’s defensive stats were improvements on his 2020 MLS regular season numbers. He committed 30 fouls but drew 67 — a team high — and picked up seven yellow cards on the year.

Urso started Orlando City’s lone playoff game against Nashville SC, playing all 90 minutes. He took two shots, placing one on target, and completed 87.2% of his passes. Defensively, Urso didn’t have any tackles in the game and only won two of his six duels (33.3%).

In addition to MLS games, Urso played all 90 minutes in the Leagues Cup match against Mexican side Santos Laguna. Similar to the playoff game, he didn’t make much of an impact, only recording one shot, three tackles, and winning just over half of his 15 tackles. He also got sent off after full time for arguing with the referee.

Best Game

Urso’s best game came on June 19 against Toronto FC at Exploria Stadium. Despite playing in their home stadium, the Lions were the road team as Canada’s COVID-19 protocols forced the Canadian MLS teams to play in the United States.

The Lions took a quick 2-0 lead on the “hosts” inside 10 minutes but gave up their lead. It appeared as though the Lions would end with a disappointing result, but a nice one-two by Urso and Chris Mueller set up the former for the winner in the 84th minute.

The goal was enough to make this one of Urso’s top games, but he was active throughout the 90 minutes. In total, he had 59 touches, two shots, a tackle, an interception, two clearances, and completed 43 of his 47 passes for a 91.5% success rate. Although he wasn’t named Man of the Match, Urso earned a strong grade of 8 from The Mane Land for his performance against Toronto.

2021 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Urso a composite score of 7 for the 2021 MLS season, which is half a point better than his score in 2020. He was excellent at times, but seemed to struggle near the end of the year. He also ended the season on a sour note with one of his worst performances coming in the team’s 3-1 loss to Nashville SC in the first round of the playoffs.

2022 Outlook

Urso will be back in purple for the 2022 MLS season as he is under contract. While there will be some attacking changes next season after the departures of Nani and Chris Mueller, the midfield will stay mostly intact with Urso, Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, and Andres Perea all returning and the club also negotiating to bring back Uri Rosell. Urso will likely start alongside Mendez for most games, so long as both players remain healthy. He is also a potential team captain for 2022 after Nani’s departure, along with Pereyra.


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