clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rodrigo Schlegel Has Been a Warrior for Orlando City in 2023

The Argentine defenseman’s ability to shoulder the load early in the season has directly contributed to the success of the club in Antonio Carlos’ absence.

MLS: CONCACAF Champions League-Tigres UANL at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

After an off-season of turnover and new additions, the Orlando City roster throughout the first month of the Major League Soccer season has resembled a science experiment. Some tinkering with the lineup has been due to design (with new players and formations) and some due to necessity (heavy fixture congestion and injuries).

There have been a few constants, however, which mostly have kept the OCSC train on the tracks throughout the early part of the year. I wrote just one week ago about how the Orlando City defense had been a pleasant surprise to start the year given preseason expectations, which expressed concern over center back depth and the integration of two new fullbacks.

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

One of the main positives of that defense throughout the start of the season has been the presence and play of center back Rodrigo Schlegel. The Argentine boasts a composite player grade through three MLS matches from The Mane Land staff of 6.3. In the Concacaf Champions League, Schlegel went the distance in both legs of the match-up, helping Orlando City come back home from Mexico with a clean sheet and playing an integral role on the back line with Robin Jansson in a 1-1 draw on March 15.

In the second leg in Orlando. Schlegel’s persistent nature on defense helped aggravate the Tigres attack, especially in Mexico during the first leg — to the point where he drew a red card on Andre-Pierre Gignac (which later got reduced to a yellow) for what first appeared in live action from one angle to be a blow to the head. Either way, he clearly got under the Frenchman’s skin.

Tigres UANL v Orlando City - Concacaf Champions League 2023 Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Across the start of the MLS season, Schlegel has been a constant for a team still struggling at times to grow into their identity, logging 225 of the 270 available minutes across three matches, despite the heavy congestion of fixtures. He also played 180 minutes against Tigres in the two meetings, so he’s logged a massive 405 out of a possible 450 in a span of 19 days.

In league play, he has passed at an average of 84.5% through the first three matches, has contributed two tackles, and has won six aerials. He has also drawn three fouls while impressively not committing a single foul. While waiting for Antonio Carlos to return from injury, Schlegel has filled in admirably and has at numerous times throughout the start of the season been the best center back on the field for Orlando City. Insert No. 15 just about anywhere else in the league and he is most likely viewed as a starting CB on any given match day. Orlando City, when healthy, has the horribly wonderful decision of selecting from three strong central defenders, and when the matches come hard and fast or the injury bug bites, Schlegel has demonstrated time and time again that he will be available and able to carry the load for Orlando City.

None of this is new news to Orlando City fans who have followed Schlegel while he has been in the City Beautiful, he is just simply due for more recognition at this time for being a warrior for Orlando to start the 2023 season. Have you been impressed with Schlegel’s form throughout the start of the season? Let us know in the comments below.