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2022 Orlando City Season in Review: Rodrigo Schlegel

Schlegel filled in for injured starters more than expected throughout the season and showed potential as a starter at center back.

MLS: Orlando City SC at CF Montreal Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Rodrigo Schlegel completed his third season with Orlando City as the team’s third center back, but he was called into action as a starter a lot more often in 2022 than in previous years due to injuries to both Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos. The club signed Schlegel on Dec. 23, 2019 on a loan deal from Racing Club in Argentina. The Lions made that loan permanent in December of 2020 and, earlier this year, Orlando City signed Schlegel to a new two-year contract through 2023 with club options in 2024 and 2025.

Let’s take a look at Schlegel’s 2022 MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

In the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Schlegel made appearances in all six matches (four starts), playing 515 minutes. He scored one goal against Nashville SC in the quarterfinals, which was a vital one deep in stoppage time, since it sent the match into extra time, where Orlando held the visitors and eventually won the penalty shootout.

Schlegel attempted just two shots in the competition and got one on target — the timely goal against Nashville. He completed 89.8% of his passes in the competition with no assists or key passes. Defensively, he contributed 10 interceptions. He committed 10 fouls while, drawing seven on his opponents, and received two yellow cards in the tournament.

In the MLS regular season, Schlegel made 29 appearances (23 starts) — both career highs — filling in often for Jansson and Carlos during numerous absences for injuries and suspensions. Schlegel logged a career-high 2,164 minutes. He scored one goal — his first career league strike — on 10 shot attempts (one on target). His 10 shot attempts also marked a career high. The Argentine defender completed 87.4% of his passes and contributed six key passes but did not log an assist on the season. Defensively, he finished with 50 tackles, 36 interceptions, 104 clearances, and 22 blocks. Schlegel committed 38 fouls and suffered 22. He had seven yellow cards and one red card this season. The red was shown after two consecutive cautions in quick succession for handball violations at Austin.

In the 2022 MLS playoffs, Schlegel started Orlando’s lone match and played 90 minutes against CF Montreal. He didn’t score or assist on a goal in the shutout loss and attempted no shots. He completed 84.4% of his passes but did not register a key pass. Defensively, he contributed two interceptions and two clearances. He also committed two fouls while drawing two and was not booked.

Best Game

Schlegel’s best game came on April 16 on the road against the Columbus Crew in a 2-0 victory. He started this match in place of Carlos, who was out with a hamstring issue, alongside Jansson, and he played the full 90 minutes. While it wasn’t his best outing as a passer — 75% accuracy on just 20 total attempts — Schlegel made a major impact on the match. Against the run of play, Schlegel found a loose ball in the box that came off of Junior Urso on the recycle of a set piece and scored his first goal as a Lion in the 37th minute.

Schlegel celebrated his first goal in MLS with a nice tribute to his late father on the t-shirt under his kit.

Defensively, Schlegel helped the Lions secure a road shutout by winning three of his five duels and contributing three tackles, and team highs that night in interceptions (4), clearances (5), and blocked shots (2). The defender committed one foul without drawing one in the game and he was booked.

Schlegel’s goal helped change the momentum of the match for the Lions but it was a strong all-around performance.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Schlegel a final grade of 6.5 out of 10 for the 2022 MLS season. This is the same grade that Schlegel received for the 2021 season and higher than the 6 out of 10 that he earned in 2020. He set multiple career highs in 2022 but some of that can be attributed to having played a lot more minutes. Despite proving he can be a quality, starting-caliber center back in MLS, Schlegel’s tendency to gamble proved costly a few times down the season’s final stretch and the Lions dropped some valuable points as a result, otherwise he could have scored even higher. However, the 25-year-old is just entering his prime years and has proven his versatility and quality on the pitch.

2023 Outlook

Schlegel is under contract for next season and proved to be a player who can step into the rotation at center back and fill in as a starter without a huge drop on either the left or right side of central defense. I would expect the young defender to continue his role backing up Jansson and Carlos, who are both still under contract for 2023, and continuing to improve. It's always good to have strong depth on the bench with role players who can fill in when your star defenders miss time due to injuries, and Schlegel is one of those guys you can count on.


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