Orlando's offense is bad, but the underlying numbers are even worse
It's no secret that Orlando's offensive production isn't great this season, and that's been even more pronounced over the last three game. The Lions have scored one goal in each of the last three games, which is fine in a vacuum, but they've come on a fluky free kick, a long throw-in and a bad own goal.
Goals are goals, but none of those show repeatable patterns of play that will lead to future offensive success, and that's backed up by the statistical crux of Orlando's offensive woes: expected goals.
The Lions have scored 25 goals this season, tying them for seventh worst in the league. That's just regular bad performance and with a strong defense, something Orlando sometimes has, is a fine starting point. But the underlying numbers point to a much bigger issue.
Orlando has generated just 23.9 expected goals per FBref, which is third worst in MLS only above woeful Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City. Orlando comfortably has the lowest xG amongst teams in playoff positions and if it weren't for an over performing defense, would be one of the worst clubs in MLS.
Orlando's -6.7 expected goal difference is bottom five in the league. There is not a single underlying stat that points to Orlando as a good team, let alone a contender for a home playoff game.
The glaring lack of offensive creativity is evident all across the stat sheet. Orlando has the third fewest shots and are in the bottom ten for other offensive stats such as shot-creating actions, key passes and succesful crosses.
This lack of production isn't coming from the top of the roster, at least that's not the primary cause of concern. The club's top two goal scorers are DPs Ercan Kara and Facundo Torres with seven and four goals respectively. Those aren't league-shattering numbers by any mean, but it's a fair return. The other DP, club captain Mauricio Pereyra, is probably Orlando's best offensive player and among the best creative midfielder in MLS.
But outside of the DPs putting up solid numbers, the rest of the roster isn't doing much of anything. Alexandre Pato has three goals on 2.8 xG which is decent for a backup striker, but the other offensive depth pieces are complete non factors. Orlando has just four players with at least two expected goals: Pato, Torres, Kara and midfielder Junior Urso who actually has four xG but only two goals scored.
The revolving door of complimentary wingers including Benji Michel, Jake Mulraney and Silvester van der Water before he left the club have a combined one goal on 2.1 xG. They're creating even less for teammates with just 0.3 expected assists.
With the woeful underperformance on the wing and a lack of effective offensively minded midfielder outside of Pereyra, the Lions only have four real attacking weapons. That lack of quality and depth is showing on the scoresheet, in the data and will start to show in the standings.
The signing of Nico Gioachinni is a step in the right direction, but Orlando needs an offensive revolution to contend for its first MLS Cup this fall.