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2022 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

The versatile defender played all along the back line at times in his fourth year with the Lions.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City signed defender Kyle Smith in December of 2018 from Louisville City, reuniting him at the time with his USL coach, James O’Connor, who was then leading the Lions. He signed a new two-year deal to extend his stay with Orlando in March of 2021. That contract includes a club option for 2023.

Since his arrival, the 30-year-old has served as a key role player, stepping into the lineup in a variety of positions when necessary for injured or suspended teammates, or when fixture congestion required some squad rotation. He has become a player that Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja has come to trust to do any number of jobs all across the pitch.

Let's take a look back at his 2022 season.

Statistical Breakdown

In the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Smith made six appearances (four starts), playing 343 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots and getting one on target. Smith completed 87.1% of his passes in the competition and contributed five key passes. He had eight interceptions on defense, committed three fouls, drew one from the opposition, and was not booked.

During the regular season, Smith made 29 appearances, starting 14 matches and logging 1,376 minutes. He attempted eight shots, getting five on target and scored twice, setting a new career high for goals in a season. He passed at a 77.3% rate and contributed 12 key passes but did not record an assist for the first time since 2019. Defensively, he recorded 44 tackles, 12 interceptions, 61 clearances, and five blocks. Smith committed 22 fouls and drew 10 on the opposition, receiving five yellow cards on the season.

He did not appear in Orlando City’s first-round playoff match against CF Montreal.

Best Game

Smith had some standout performances, including the regular season finale at home against the Columbus Crew, but I would go with the quarterfinal match-up in the U.S. Open Cup against Nashville SC back on June 29. Smith filled in at left back in that match for Joao Moutinho and worked alongside Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Ruan for the match. Smith started and played the full 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes of extra time when neither team could decide the match in open play and it went to a penalty shootout. While he didn’t score a goal or assist on one, he completed 86.5% of his passes on his 75 total touches. Smith won all five of his duels and recorded two tackles, two interceptions, and had three clearances in the match.

His two biggest plays on the night were critical in the Lions advancing past Nashville to the semifinals. He blocked a Walker Zimmerman shot on a free header off a set piece to keep the USMNT defender off the board and preventing Alex Muyl from tapping it in if it was going wide. The USOC Twitter account got the name wrong in the tweet but on the second replay you can clearly see it’s No. 24 — Smith.

His second critical contribution was scoring on his penalty in the postgame shootout as Orlando City’s third shooter. A few rounds of spot kicks later and the Lions were through to the semifinals. Smith was part of a solid team effort to hold the talented Nashville offense to just one goal on the night and he turned in a great performance.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff awarded Smith a composite grade of 5.5 out of 10 for the 2022 season. Smith’s hard work, solid play, and versatility made him a key player for the coaching staff coming off the bench, and he played in more matches this season than last year. His overall grade is down a full point from last season’s grade in 2021, when he received a 6.5 from the staff. In the 2020 season, Smith’s grade from the staff was a 6. His final grade for his first season with the Lions in 2019 was 5.5. Although Smith was a solid role player for the team, he struggled through some games against speedy wingers that beat him for pace and created dangerous scoring opportunities. This was particularly true when he played left back, which is not his natural side.

2023 Outlook

Orlando City has a club option on Smith for next season, so the front office will need to decide whether or not to keep him through 2023. Smith’s base salary for this season was an affordable $128,580 and even though he’ll be 31 in January, it seems likely that Orlando will decide to pick up his option. He is a selfless player who is willing to play wherever he can to help the team, provides a veteran presence, has a terrific work ethic, is versatile and inexpensive, and Oscar Pareja seems to value having him.

Expect Smith to continue his role coming off the bench and getting spot starts, putting in solid minutes, and remaining a versatile option on defense.


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