Voices: Andrew Wiebe

Mailbag! Can RSL get more from Diego Luna? What is Orlando City's path forward?


Eight matchdays into the 2024 season, four measly points separate 1st and 15th place in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

Only one team remains unbeaten (the Philadelphia Union). Only two teams have won over 50% of their games (Vancouver Whitecaps FC and New York Red Bulls). Six teams are averaging less than a point a game, including overwhelming preseason favorites in Seattle and Orlando.

Hope is not lost for any club – even you, San Jose Earthquakes – but as 2023 Sporting KC would tell you, at some point the rubber has to hit the road.

Parity! A third of the league nursing Concacaf Champions Cup hangovers! High-profile injuries! Early-season kinks still working themselves out! For the time being, there are plenty of good teams in our league but no great ones, not according to the results anyway.

Let’s get to your questions!

Wiebe column 4.10 - 1

First, it’s reasonable to expect 20-year-old playmakers (in a new game model) will have variance in terms of productivity.

Second, Luna has been public about the fact that he’s not performing at the level he expects (0g/5a) while balancing the pressure of a new, long-term contract and working through some mental health issues. Huge credit to Luna – again, at the tender age of 20 – for being so open about his struggles.

“Mental health is the hardest thing, and what drops pros and what makes pros, I think,” Luna told _The_ _Salt Lake Tribune_ a little more than a week ago.

Third, the numbers and the eye test say that Luna’s final-third involvement – in particular, actions in the opposing penalty area – are way down year-over-year. It’s early, but here’s the year-over-year comparison for Luna, all on a per-90 basis.

Diego Luna: 2023 vs. 2024 per-90










Average shot distance

18.1 yards

24.2 yards




Shot-Creating Actions



Key Passes



Passes into penalty area



Touches in penalty area



That’s pretty stark. Luna went from a consistent goal threat to zero danger in that regard. He just isn’t getting the ball in high-leverage attacking situations close to goal. Why? Well, so far it seems the RSL attack runs down the right flank, where Andrés Gómez has been a menace.

Add in Chicho Arango’s blistering form – and time spent playing underneath as a second forward – and you can understand why Luna’s box actions are down. Form can change, however, and certainly RSL need to figure out a way to get their young attacker going to reach their full potential.

Wiebe column 4.10 - 2

I could pour 2,000 words into this question … but Arman Kafai literally did it this week at Backheeled. Go read his piece on D.C.’s turnaround, which is comprehensive but also accessible if you aren’t a soccer wonk.

If you’ve got a couple of bucks a month to spend on truly great MLS coverage, that’s where I’d spend it.

Wiebe column 4.10 - 3

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Orlando City are, early in the season, struggling to create and finish clear-cut chances. No team has scored fewer goals this season than the Lions (5).

“We have volume, we have sequences, we have energy, we have many things that make you win games,” Oscar Pareja said after a disappointing home draw against the Red Bulls two weeks ago. “But if you don’t have punch, then it's not going to happen. So, we need to score goals if we want to win games.”

To put a number to that quote, no team has underperformed their xG more than Orlando (-4.8, per FBRef). Only Duncan McGuire (two goals) is pulling his attacking weight. The good news is that Orlando are among the per-90 league leaders in the following categories: touches in the opposing penalty area (1st), expected assists (2nd) and shots (5th).

They’re just not doing much in terms of clear-cut chance creation with those opportunities. Orlando are cross-heavy. They’re predictable. All the same things were true, particularly at home, this time last year.

Might that be because Luis Muriel, paid handsomely to score, has been playing as a second forward/No. 10? The Colombian is far too far from goal, drifting into the left pocket, where he’s neither a threat to score nor has the individual creativity to consistently create the sort of chances that others will. Consider it the trickle-down effect of not selling Duncan McGuire, plus Pareja’s general resistance to giving club-record signing Martin Ojeda an extended run at the No. 10.

I’d love to see Papi give Ojeda a true chance to settle in the middle while McGuire and Muriel battle it out for the reps up top. Whichever No. 9 is in the best form starts. The other must impact matches off the bench, with the goal of wresting the starting spot away. Oh, and Wilder Cartagena and César Araújo need to rediscover what made them so difficult to play against in 2023.

Of course, Pareja isn’t the type to blame his guys. Clearly he has work to do, as well.

“It’s easy to be on the bench or the stand and ask, ‘Why aren’t the players aren’t doing this?’ or ‘Why are the players not passing to the others?’ but I will never ask that,” he said after the home draw against the Red Bulls. “I have a big responsibility on that part. I need to create a final sequence where I can probably bring more advantage to finish and maybe they can have that space and time to make good decisions. It's not happening, and I have to come up with something and help them. They have the energy, and they have the quality. I need to be better for sure.”

Thanks to a bye week, Orlando got two weeks to hone in on the final sequences Pareja is looking for while giving his fatigued squad a breather. Let’s see if Matchday 9 brings any improvement away to D.C. United.

Wiebe column 4.10 - 4

Saturday, I hope for Agyemang’s sake. He’s an absolute handful, but the final product is so far eluding the 2023 MLS SuperDraft selection and MLS NEXT Pro standout.

I’d be worried if Agyemang wasn’t getting chances and causing chaos, but at some point he’s got to finish to keep his place. A tighter first touch. Composure in shooting situations. He needs to hone both.

Confidence goes a long way. The first goal could open the floodgates.

Wiebe column 4.10 - end

I don’t know wrastlin’ well enough to compare players to wrestlers, but I do have a feel for which MLSers might thrive in the ring. Here’s a quick five from MLS past and present:

  1. Zlatan (duh)
  2. The Goonies: Gordo & Lenny tag team (Wondo as their manager)
  3. Jimmy Nielsen or Aurélien Collin… your choice from that 2011-2013 SKC team
  4. Jamison Olave (in his prime, he ate strikers for breakfast)
  5. Joe Nasco (if you know, you know)