Nico Lodeiro has a solution for what ails Orlando City SC

Feb 27, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City midfielder Nico Lodeiro (14) dribbles past Calvary FC
Feb 27, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City midfielder Nico Lodeiro (14) dribbles past Calvary FC / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City SC struggles to get every  point this season. And supporters are struggling with them.

Supporters are right to feel the struggle. And they’re right not to like it. But Orlando City SC supporters shouldn’t be struggling against midfielder Nico Lodeiro coming off the bench. He’s not the problem and is fighting for a solution.

Match after match going into May, opponents scouted Orlando City. They adopted the back-three formation to go against City. And it has worked, especially in a recent game against FC Cincinnati.

In that match, FC scored just 17 seconds into the first half. That goal held up for the win as a stymied and frustrated SC failed to solve what the opponents were doing.

Yet scouts find no fault in Lodeiro’s 38 minutes, even as the team finally returned to their locker room with no points.

In that match after substituting in, Lodeiro got off two shots, a tackle, and even a dispossession – all with only 29 touches. His attempts on goal represented half the team’s shots on target for the entire game.

When he’s got strong players around his position, the strength he brings to the team centers on key passes while he’s cutting inside.

One of his strongest skills is laying off the ball to teammates. This requires more than focus. And focus is the skill that the City will have to continue developing to overcome opponents to solve their back-three dilemma finally.

Laying off requires Lodeiro to know the exact positions of his teammates. He has to memorize whether they are left- or right-footed. The ball then must be laid off, kicking it just soft enough that the teammate can execute a one-touch play.

Lodeiro signed with Orlando in January after one of the most successful tenures in MLS history – all with Seattle Sounders.

After eight seasons there, he’s still capable of double-digit assist years. He did that six times with the Sounders, fifth place in MLS with six-or-more seasons tallying 10 or more assists.

He was captain in 2019 when the Sounders won the MLS title for the second time.

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When the club announced this signing, expectations ran exactly the opposite of what happened early this season, too many losses. No one expected Orlando to get beaten by one goal scored less than a minute after starting the first half of a match, as happened against FC Cincinnati.

Whether starting or coming in as a substitute, every player has to stay fit, focused, and at top form every minute of every Orlando City SC game. Nico Lodeiro knows how to do that every match. And he will.