The 2021 MLS season was Joey DeZart’s second after being selected by Orlando City in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. The midfielder played a slightly increased role this past season as opposed to his rookie year. Despite his larger role, DeZart’s time in the first team was still limited.
Let’s take a look at the midfielder’s 2021 MLS season.
DeZart made 17 appearances (seven starts) in 2021 and recorded 562 minutes. That’s up from 11 appearances (four starts) and 373 minutes during his 2020 rookie season. Primarily a defensive midfielder, DeZart rarely got far into the attack, only recording one off-target shot on the season with no goals or assists.
The young midfielder completed 253 of his 282 passes (89.7%) and seven of his 10 long passes (70%). Most of his passes were lateral, sending 21.3% of his passes forward and 13.1% of those passes backwards. One of those passes was a key pass as the Lions attacked forward.
Defensively, DeZart made two clearances, three blocks, and six interceptions. He was successful in three of his four tackles (75%), 16 of his 57 duels (28.1%), and six of his 20 aerial duels (30%).
Additionally, the 23-year-old won four fouls, conceded 11 fouls, and was booked twice — both yellow cards.
Most of DeZart’s appearances came as a substitute at the end of games. In fact, the midfielder only played at least 10 minutes on eight occasions and at least 45 minutes six times. Interestingly, DeZart’s best performance was one of the worst for his team.
DeZart’s best game came on July 25 away to New York City FC in a 5-0 loss. Despite the poor performance for the squad, it was a solid game for the midfielder. He played 90 minutes and completed 74.1% of his passes. While he didn’t have any tackles, he won four of his nine duels (44.4%) and drew three fouls while conceding two. He also got off his only shot of the season.
When compared with games in which DeZart played at least 45 minutes, DeZart had his best passing percentage, most duels, and most duels won in this game. While it might not have been a stellar performance by him or his team, it was his best of the season.
2021 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave DeZart a composite score of five on our 10-point scale. He wasn’t detrimental to the team when he was on the field, but didn’t have a major impact on any of the games in which he played. He did get better as the season went on and he was able to play more, but not enough to work his way into the lineup regularly.
On Feb. 21, 2020, Orlando City signed DeZart to a two-year contract with a club option for a third year. On Dec. 1, the club exercised its option on the midfielder, so DeZart will most likely be on the team when the 2022 MLS season begins.
DeZart saw increased appearances, starts, and minutes in 2021, but entered the lineup when regular starters needed a game off. Given the players on the roster for next season, including Junior Urso, Sebas Mendez, and Andres Perea, DeZart will be expected to fill the same role next season.