Orlando City SC News

Mauricio Pereyra needs to keep playing deeper in midfield

Christopher Adams
Jul 23, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Orlando City midfielder Mauricio Pereyra (10) and Philadelphia
Jul 23, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando City midfielder Mauricio Pereyra (10) and Philadelphia / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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The tactical switch that sparked Orlando's 5-1 win against the New York Red Bulls is the most interesting thing happening with the Lions right now. We've already discussed Benji Michel playing as a lead striker, but now let's take a look at the other big change: Mauricio Pereyra as a deeper midfielder.

Orlando typically plays in a 4-2-3-1 shape. Pereyra usually plays in the middle of the three line, but the last two games he's dropped to the two line alongside César Araújo. This tactical shift does a few things but the biggest two are 1. It allows Alexandre Pato to start in a more natural 10/false 9 position and 2. It gives Orlando a true deep-lying playmaker and distributor.

For all of Araújo's strengths defensively, he's a bit limited offensively. He can move and progress the ball decently well, but he doesn't open up play. Pereyra in that spot can pick a pass anywhere on the field and allow Orlando to use its pace and get in behind backlines. Because Araújo's so strong and athletic defensively, it allows Pereyra to sit deeper and put in limited defensive work.

The trickle effect of this midfield shake up is pushing Junior Urso out to the wing. The experienced Brazilian is a hard-nosed box to box midfielder, but he's a fairly capable narrow winger. With Ruan pushing up the right flank, Urso can stay more centrally and play as almost another central midfielder. He's shown the hard pressing and goal scoring instincts to thrive as a more forward player and he fits in well as a complimentary piece.

For over a month, Orlando's attack floundered and failed to create consistent chances against anybody. Since Pereyra pushed deeper in midfield, Pato played the 10 and Michel played up top, the Lions have created mountains of chances. The attack is fluid and dynamic. There's a clear plan and it's finally fun to watch. This is the way forward for Orlando to reach it's full potential.

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