Orlando City Could Struggle Offensively, Again

Leagues Cup 2021: Quarterfinals - Santos Laguna v Orlando City SC
Leagues Cup 2021: Quarterfinals - Santos Laguna v Orlando City SC / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

Orlando City found a lot of success last season, making it to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Amidst a good season, and even with several high-caliber stars, Orlando's offensive production faltered. The Lions were 11th in goals scored, a good ranking, but only 19th in expected goals. If it weren't for incredible individual efforts from Nani and Daryl Dike, Orlando would've been a legitimately bad offensive team. That lack of cohesion and a succesful offensive system is only further exemplified by Orlando's expected assists last season, which ranked 21st in the league.

Expected goals and assists aren't the end all be all in soccer. LAFC led the league in xG last season only to miss the playoffs. But even still, the only playoff teams with fewer expected goals than the Lions last year were the Vancouver Whitecaps and Atlanta United, both teams that got off to atrocious starts in the league. Orlando was far behind the standard in MLS for a good attacking team, even with a few Best XI caliber forwards.

That leads us to 2022. All we have to go off of is preseason, and I don't want to overreact to meaningless games in front of (for the most part) no fans and almost no media. But in five matches, Orlando only scored seven times, four of which came in the same messy game against Minnesota United. In the one open preseason game against Colorado, Orlando created some half chances, but looked a ways away from being a fluid offensive team. Based off of the following preseason results, it's hard to say things are getting tangibly better.

A lot of the offensive success is predicated on whether the new pieces can mesh better than the old ones. Matt Doyle of MLSSoccer.com put it better than I ever could.

"Too often last season Orlando’s attack devolved into a series of “your turn, my turn” isolation 1v1s that produced not much. Mauricio Pereyra tried to knit the whole thing together and provide some kind of connection between center forward Daryl Dike and wingers Nani and Chris Mueller, but the chemistry was never there"

Matt Doyle, Armchair Analyst

If Orlando wants to be better offensively, then Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara and Silvester van der Water need to mesh together. Mauricio Pereyra is the only returning starter of the bunch, and hopefully the fresh faces will make things easier for him. If the pieces gel, Orlando gets way better. But I'm not sure if we can realistically expect that to happen, at least not soon. Maybe this is a huge overreaction to a slow preseason, but this might be another long season in front of goal for the Lions.