Despite playing fewer than 400 minutes of MLS action so far, Dutch winger Silvester van der Water looks to be a good acquisition for Orlando City. Per 90 minutes, van der Water has the second-best combined goals and assists on the team with 0.92, just behind Nani at 1.13. The sample size is still small — almost 700 fewer minutes than Nani — but the Dutchman has shown a level of flair and skill that make him among Orlando’s biggest threats.
He is second on the team in shots (2.79), key passes (2.56), expected goals (0.49), and successful dribbles (2.09) per 90 minutes, and is also third in shot-creating actions (3.95) per 90. These are all highly promising numbers for a new signing, however, for all the good moments, there’s one obvious flaw in his game that is holding him back from being a truly elite player in MLS: consistency.
Two goals and two assists in under 400 minutes is an excellent return, but two of those came last Friday against Atlanta, and the other two came in quick succession earlier this season. Much of the last month and change, van der Water was one of the least impressive players on the team. Not only did he struggle to create goal-scoring opportunities, he was sloppy in possession, bad on the ball, and generally made bad decisions. Per 90 minutes, van der Water is dispossessed the fourth most times on the team with 3.49, and he also has one of the lowest receiving percentages at just under 80%.
There is not a more maddeningly inconsistent player on this team than van der Water. For all of those bad performances — and it’s important to note that he’s been battling fitness issues, dealing with a change in culture, and settling into the North American game — he’s still capable of being a game-breaking player. When he was subbed on against Atlanta, he completely changed the game. The question remains, can van der Water become a consistent performer?
He’s yet to look near 90 minutes fit after dealing with a knock in the preseason and isn’t particularly strong either. If over the coming weeks and months, he can further adapt to the physicality of MLS and improve his fitness, consistency on the field could fall in line. Beyond that, understanding the league and further integrating into the Orlando City squad will also further build consistency.
If van der Water can string together quality performances, he gives Orlando City the dynamic playmaker the team needs opposite of Nani. Last year, that guy was Chris Mueller, but with his move to Scotland — which could potentially still happen this summer — and his inconsistent performances this year, there is an obvious opening for van der Water to be a top player on this team, both now and in the future.
The quality is clear, but if the Dutchman can combine that with some semblance of consistency, Orlando may yet have another Best XI playmaker on the books for the next few seasons.