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2022 Orlando City Season in Review: Alexandre Pato

A resurgent beginning to the 2022 campaign was cut short by a devastating injury.

MLS: CF Montreal at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City striker Alexandre Pato was re-signed to a one year contract back on Jan. 15. Initially brought to the club on Feb. 13 of 2020 to give the team’s offense a boost, his first season was lost to injury as Pato only took the field four times after leaving with a knee injury in the 2021 season opener against Atlanta. After a full off-season to heal and recover, Pato’s role for 2022 largely fluctuated between set-up man and finisher. Unfortunately for both Pato and the Lions, his season was cut short by Dru Yearwood of the New York Red Bulls. Yearwood clipped the Duck’s wings so to speak as he came through Pato’s lower body on a hard tackle and forced him to exit the match. That injury ended his season and he later underwent knee surgery on Sept. 9. Let’s take a look at his second season with the club.

Statistical Breakdown

In the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Pato saw the field in five matches (four starts), playing 390 minutes. He contributed one goal, scoring on a penalty kick in Orlando’s win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He picked up his only yellow card of the year during the Lions’ 5-1 win over the Red Bulls in the semifinals. Pato took 16 shots over the course of the tournament, putting four of them on target. He passed at a 77.6% success rate and tallied 10 key passes but did not register an assist in the competition. Pato committed only one foul and suffered 12, and was booked once.

During the regular season, Pato made 22 appearances (14 starts) and logged a total of 1,194 minutes. He had nine goal contributions, scoring three goals and assisting on six more. His first goal of the year came in the season opener and his joy was visible on his face when celebrating.

Pato also had 25 key passes, completed 73% of his 374 passes, connected on 15 of his 31 crosses, and was accurate on 11 of his 39 crosses (28.2%). Defensively, Pato logged eight tackles, six interceptions, and 10 clearances. Pato wasn’t booked in the regular season and won 26 fouls while committing just 12.

Due to his season-ending injury, Pato did not make an appearance in Orlando’s playoff match.

Best Game

There are certainly more matches to choose from this year compared to in 2021. Pato impressed in that opening win against CF Montreal, but his best match came in Orlando City’s 4-2 loss against LAFC on April 2. In a match that took place during a classic torrential Central Florida downpour, LAFC took an early lead but Pato equalized after a header from Ercan Kara found him open in the box. Pato only needed one touch to strike the ball past goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau with his left foot.

It could have been the Brazilian's second goal of the game but Pato was called offside earlier in the match. Both of his shots in the match were on target and he also contributed two key passes. Pato was successful on both of his dribbles and won his lone aerial duel as well. He was our Man of the Match and his performance was a positive takeaway from the loss.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff awarded Pato a composite grade of 6.5 out of 10 for the 2022 season. In the 2021 season, Pato did not qualify for a composite grade due to his lack of playing time. There were moments this season which reminded teammates and fans just how much skill the veteran striker still possessed, but there were also times where Pato’s time on the field and production felt clunky. That may be due in part to the integration of new pieces in the attack or being asked to slot into different positions throughout the year. Even with significantly more playing time, one cannot help but look at Pato’s season and wonder what if. It was an absolute shame that his season was ended by an egregious tackle (that wasn’t even called a foul) and that Pato could not celebrate with his teammates when they lifted the U.S. Open Cup.

2023 Outlook

Out of contract and recovering from another knee surgery in his home country of Brazil, it would not be out of the question to see the 2022 campaign as the 33-year old’s last season with Orlando City, but the club would need to re-sign the veteran forward for that to happen. It’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see 2022 as the Duck’s swan song after a storied career, or at least his final season with Orlando. Whatever the future holds for him, we hope his road to recovery is an easy one.

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