The 2022 season was Andrés Perea’s third with Orlando City after originally signing on loan from Atletico Nacional in December of 2019. Perea was permanently signed after a 2020 season in which he appeared in every single one of Orlando’s games except for the MLS is Back Tournament final. Following the conclusion of the 2021 season, the club exercised its contract option for the 2022 season.
With ample depth in the defensive midfield, it was no surprise that Perea did not find himself as a starter yet again this season. He was behind Junior Urso, former starter Sebas Mendez, and newcomer César Araújo — the latter who became the first name on Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s team sheet after the first week of play. In games that Perea did find the field, he often found himself in more of an attacking midfield role than what we are used to seeing out of him.
Let’s have a look at how his 2022 season played out.
Perea made six appearances in Orlando City’s U.S. Open Cup matches, with two of those as a starter. He logged 214 minutes on the field in the tournament, took five shots with one on target, and passed with 92.4% accuracy but tallied no assists on his three key passes. Perea had one interception, was fouled twice, and committed three fouls while collecting a yellow card.
The midfielder made 24 appearances during the Major League Soccer regular season, with seven starts, and played 799 minutes. He took 12 shots, putting three on target, and scoring one goal. He passed with 82.8% accuracy, attempting 396 and completing 328, but never gathered an assist along the way on nine key passes. On the defensive side of things, he made 24 tackles and recorded 13 interceptions with 11 clearances. Perea also won 27 aerial duels, was fouled 13 times, committed eight fouls of his own, and received one yellow card this season.
Perea’s services were not called upon in Orlando’s lone playoff game this season.
Perea’s best game of the season was clearly his performance in the 2-1 U.S. Open Cup victory over the Philadelphia Union on May 10 at Exploria Stadium. The midfielder started the match and logged a full shift of 90 minutes alongside Araújo as the duo of defensive midfielders. Statistically, however, he found higher marks in the offensive columns than defensive. Perea had two key passes and completed five long balls. He landed 47 of his 53 passes at a 88.7% rate on the offensive end. But his biggest contribution came as the Orlando doubled the lead in the 57th minute.
Ercan Kara attempted to lay the ball off to Alexandre Pato, but a sliding Union defender broke up the play. Perea then found the ball falling to his feet 30 yards out, took one touch, and rifled a shot from distance to beat the keeper.
On the night, Perea took one shot, put it on target, and made it count for a goal. He conceded a foul but was fouled once himself. Defensively, Perea had zero interceptions and boasted only a 40% duel percentage on the night. While you typically want more from your defensive midfielder, an unexpected certified banger from distance from an unlikely hero is more than enough to call it a noteworthy appearance.
2022 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff awarded Perea a final composite grade of 5 out of 10 in 2022. This is a one step drop on his grade of 6 out of 10 from last year and the 6 he received in 2020. He had a decrease in being called upon and played three fewer games compared to last year, while logging 935 fewer minutes in the regular season. He did see time in the U.S. Open Cup, providing some depth and opportunities for Pareja to rotate his squad a bit. He faced plenty of competition in the defensive midfield and tried to make the most of every opportunity playing in the attack when called upon. Unfortunately, while he delivered consistently steady performances, those were mainly steady in the lackluster department.
Perea had his option exercised by the club last year, but we are unsure whether the club holds another option year or if Perea is out of contract. If his contract has in fact expired following the 2022 season, it might be time for Orlando to move on from the young midfielder. With a base salary of $240,000, it is an expensive price to pay for services rendered when you consider other options, such as Araújo who made substantially less and has a much higher ceiling. If Perea were willing to gamble on himself and take a slight pay cut, he might be able to once again compete for minutes in the midfield next year to try to secure a longer deal. If signed, Pareja might be better served to move away from experimenting with Perea in the attack going forward as well. Overall, the experiment didn’t quite work, as he lacks the class needed for a maestro in MLS. Personally, I anticipate we have seen the last of Perea in purple.