Even with big steps forward in advanced analytics in soccer, sometimes it's still really difficult to quantify one player's impact on a match or a team. Such is the beauty of soccer. Orlando City SC midfielder Mauricio Pereyra is a prime example of that.
The No. 10 has had pedestrian box score numbers at the MLS is Back Tournament, he's got just one goal and no assists. So far in Orlando he has 202 passes completed at a success rate of 85% as well as 13 successful dribbles, helping expand on his influence past his goal/assist. Still, the numbers haven't done it justice. Pereyra has been an integral cog of Orlando City's surprise run to the semifinal of the tournament, as the coaches and his teammates are quick to point out.
“Mauricio is creating all of the time," head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters on a video conference call on Monday. "He’s in that mode of making things happen, connecting dots and having different ideas. It’s a pleasure to coach a player like him.”
Matt Doyle further broke down Pereyra's impact on Orlando's style and success:
Pereyra, 30, is a Uruguayan midfielder who joined Orlando last summer from Russian club FC Krasnodar. The attacker showed his quality in limited opportunities after joining, with three assists in 394 minutes before Orlando's 2019 ended. He returned for 2020 with a proper offseason and, despite the four month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is exhibiting just why Orlando brought him on board as a Designated Player.
“He’s a player that can really dictate the pace of the game," forward Tesho Akindele said. "You give him the ball, you’re confident he’s going to keep hold of it and make the right pass.”
With Orlando finding form under Pareja, led by Nani, Pereyra, Chris Mueller and a solid defensive foundation, the Lions find themselves just one win away from the final of the MLS is Back Tournament. They face Minnesota United in the semis on Thursday (8 pm ET | ESPN2, TSN, TVAS) to decide their fate.
And maybe Pereyra's box score numbers will begin to reflect his importance to the team.
“His goal and assist numbers haven’t shown the kind of quality player he is, but that’s a good thing because he has room to improve," Akindele said. "He’s been unlucky not to get more goals or assist, so he’ll probably revert to the mean and have a couple of those soon.”