At just 21 years old, Andres Perea is already a decorated servant for Orlando City, playing 53 games since arriving on loan from Athletico Nacional in 2020. In his first two MLS seasons, Perea shined as a versatile and talented midfielder, filling in multiple central roles and becoming Orlando's Swiss Army knife off the bench. His play in 2020 even earned him a chance to represent the United States at the international level.
So far in 2022, Perea has really struggled. Against CF Montreal in the season opener, the Colombian-American midfielder started and played the first half but really struggled in the final third, making bad decisions and turning the ball over. He was subbed off at halftime for Junior Urso and Orlando's attacking fortunes almost immediately shifted.
After that disappointing season debut, Perea dealt with a leg injury that kept him out most of the early season. Perea returned to the lineup in earnest with a second-half appearance against the Portland Timbers and struggled once again. He did little going forward, but it was his defensive woes that drew criticism this time, with a sloppy foul in the box gifting a penalty to the Timbers that cost the Lions a potentially massive road victory.
Though he's played just 69 minutes through five matches, it's been a disastrous start to the campaign for Perea. He's never been an overly impressive player, but he's a consistent 7/10 type of performer. That consistent net-positive contribution is nowhere to be seen from the former Colombian youth international.
Even with other midfield options like Junior Urso, Perea is a vital piece to Orlando City's roster. He's a high opportunity cost player, occupying one of the team's three u22 initiative slots, and he's one of the higher upside players on the squad.
Perea is a long-term investment for the club, with potential either as a strong mainstay in Orlando or valuable sale abroad. After the first chunk of the season, things aren't going to plan for the talented midfielder. With an injury to Mauricio Pereyra, Andres Perea's form is more important than ever, as Orlando needs more quality options in central midfield. We've seen better from Perea before, and it's up to him to show that this is just a slow start, not a regression after two promising seasons in purple.