[Editor’s note: We don’t typically give Season in Review grades for players who have left the club, but this story was in the can and originally scheduled to go live at 11 a.m. when this morning’s news broke. That was some unfortunate timing and required the final section to go through some last-minute changes, but since Dave wrote it, and because of what Junior Urso has meant to this team for the last three years, we felt it was important to go ahead and publish it. We at The Mane Land wish Junior and his family the best of luck and will miss him at Exploria Stadium.]
Orlando City signed Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso prior to the 2020 season from Serie A side Corinthians. It wasn’t known how long the contract was, though it was thought to be either four years or three years with an option year for 2023. At this point, it doesn’t matter since the Bear is headed back to Brazil for personal reasons. The 2022 season was Urso’s third year with Orlando City, and the Bear didn’t show any signs of slowing down, with only Pedro Gallese and Facundo Torres logging more minutes than the 33-year-old.
As we say goodbye to Urso, let’s look at how the Bear fared during the 2022 season.
In the U.S. Open Cup, Urso appeared in all six matches (six starts), logging 542 out of the 600 total available minutes (two of the games included 30 minutes of extra time). He scored one goal — against Tampa Bay — attempted 16 shots, with three on target, and had one assist. Urso completed 86.3% of his 219 pass attempts with nine accurate long balls and six key passes. He finished with three interceptions, committing 12 fouls, suffering 17, and earning no yellow or red cards.
During the regular season, Urso appeared in all 34 of Orlando City’s games (29 starts), logging 2,563 minutes. He scored five goals on 37 shots and put 21 of those shots on frame. He also contributed four assists. He passed with 86.9% accuracy and tallied 24 key passes, connected on 60 of 75 long balls (82.7% rate), and had one accurate cross. Defensively, he won 43 of 71 tackles (60.6% rate) and recorded 22 interceptions, 11 clearances, and four blocks. Urso won 166 of 328 duels (50.6% rate), and 30 of 59 aerial duels (50.8% rate). He committed 42 fouls and suffered 64, receiving seven yellow cards and was not sent off.
Urso also started in Orlando City’s playoff match and played a total of 77 minutes. He recorded no goals, shots, or assists. He passed with 91.3% accuracy with no key passes, two accurate long balls, and no crosses. Defensively, he made two blocks and had one interception. Urso didn’t commit any fouls, but suffered two fouls, with no yellow or red cards.
Urso is so consistent that it can be difficult to choose a best match. His performance in the 2-1 Open Cup win over the Philadelphia Union comes to mind. However, I think his best match was the 2-1 win over New York City FC on August 28 at Exploria Stadium. Even though it was Tesho Akindele’s late header that gave Orlando City the win, it was Urso’s absolute stunner of a goal that put the Lions up early.
Another look at Júnior Urso's goal pic.twitter.com/2ChdWjJrN3— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 29, 2022
Being able to pick that ball out of the air on his first touch and get over top of it for the shot was very impressive. Of course, there was also the give and go with Torres to put him in position. In that match, Urso had an 89.7% passing rate, one key pass, a team-high five shots, with two on target, and of course the goal. The performance won Urso a clean sweep of Man of the Match picks from both Michael and I on The Mane Land PawedCast, and in our Player Grades piece for the match.
2022 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Urso a composite score of 6.5 out of 10 for the 2022 season. That is slightly lower than his 2021 score of 7. It might seem surprising, given how much he contributed this season, but it wasn’t all his fault. Óscar Pareja moved Urso higher up the pitch to allow Mauricio Pereyra to drop further back. Tactically, this allowed Facundo Torres to flourish, but it also changed what Urso was able to do. It opened up the offense but limited what Urso was able to be able to do defensively.
In between the original writing of this article and the expected publishing of this article, Orlando City announced that Urso is leaving the club (see the story linked in the editor’s note at the top of this story for more details). His leadership when on the field for Orlando City was critical and he will be missed as the Lions will definitely have new players in the midfield next season. Our thanks go out to Urso for all he gave this club.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
- Jack Lynn (10/21/22)
- Joey DeZart (10/22/22)
- Nicholas Gioacchini (10/24/22)
- Thomas Williams (10/24/22)
- Michael Halliday (10/26/22)
- Tesho Akindele (10/28/22)
- Mason Stajduhar (10/29/22)
- Ivan Angulo (10/30/22)
- Jake Mulraney (10/31/22)
- Andrés Perea (11/1/22)
- Kyle Smith (11/2/22)
- Wilder Cartagena (11/3/22)
- Benji Michel (11/4/22)
- Alexandre Pato (11/5/22)
- Ruan (11/6/22)
- Rodrigo Schlegel (11/7/22)
- Cesar Araujo (11/8/22)
- Robin Jansson (11/9/22)
- Antonio Carlos (11/9/22)