Benji Michel joined Orlando City as a Homegrown Player on New Year’s Eve back in 2018. The club exercised the forward’s option for 2022 after the conclusion of the 2021 season, bringing him back after a second straight year of seven goal contributions in the regular season.
Let’s have a look at how he performed in 2022.
As far as the statistics go, Benji regressed this season. He did much better in the U.S. Open Cup than the regular season. During Orlando City’s championship run, he played in four matches (two starts), logging 266 minutes. He contributed two goals and three assists, while taking six shots and putting four on target. He passed with 78.2% accuracy in the tournament, making four key passes. He recorded one interception, committed four fouls, and suffered three without receiving a booking.
Michel logged 1,502 minutes across 31 appearances (14 starts) in the regular season. He notched just one goal and one assist this season and took 25 shots, putting eight on target. That’s about one shot attempt per hour on the field, which is not great for a forward. Michel passed at a 79.3% success rate and contributed 11 key passes. Defensively, he logged 16 tackles, six interceptions, and 11 clearances. He committed 20 fouls and drew 16 fouls on the opposition, picking up four yellow cards on the season.
It was certainly a step back from last season, when he had four goals and three assists in 1,870 minutes. A dip in his numbers is understandable given he played fewer minutes, but the degree with which his numbers dropped off was disappointing. Defensively though, he had 16 tackles, six interceptions, 12 clearances, committed 20 fouls, won 33 of his 65 aerial duels, and received four yellow cards.
He came off the bench to play 13 minutes in the playoff match against CF Montreal, completing all three of his passes, making a clearance, and drawing a foul. He did not attempt a shot in the game.
It shouldn’t be surprising to say that Benji’s best game came in the 3-0 U.S. Open Cup final victory over the Sacramento Republic. In a 29-minute substitute appearance, Benji’s pace to get behind Sacramento’s back line changed the game. Michel assisted on Facundo Torres’ opening goal when he laid the ball off for the Uruguayan to smash it home.
He wasn’t done there though, as he drew the penalty kick which Torres converted for the Lions’ second score. Michel rounded the evening off with a well-taken third goal as time wound down.
Outside of his goal and assist, Benji put one of his two shots on target, passed with 83% accuracy, made one clearance, and committed two fouls while suffering one. While The Mane Land did not award player grades for the tournament game, Michel had a notable impact on the match to help Orlando win its first trophy since joining MLS.
2022 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Benji a grade of 5.5 out of 10 for his 2022 campaign, which is the same as his rating last year. Frankly, his offensive numbers were just too poor to justify going higher. While he played slightly fewer minutes in MLS, his numbers fell off a cliff. If not for his production during the U.S. Open Cup, his grade likely would have been lower. The 2022 season felt like a step back from a 2021 season that also felt like a step back from 2020. Michel still struggles with his touch, decision making, and keeping possession. Ivan Angulo firmly cemented his place in the starting lineup on the left side over Benji by the end of the year.
In last year’s review, we noted that 2022 seemed like a make-or-break year for Michel. That feeling only amplified once Gaston Gonzalez went down with a knee injury and Orlando’s options at left wing became Benji and Jake Mulraney. Michel didn’t take the step he probably needed to this year. If OCSC makes Angulo’s loan a permanent deal, his presence, combined with that of Torres, Gonzalez, Nicholas Gioacchini, and (potentially) Mulraney, means that Orlando’s options at winger begin to get rather numerous. Working in Michel’s favor is the fact that with a base salary of $115,000, he’s currently the cheapest option among those players, but his lack of production this year might mean that doesn’t matter. This is a tough one to call, and ultimately I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back for a fifth season, or if the Lions decide to move on.
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)