After digging through records on transfermarkt.co.uk and last year's issues of the Orlando Sentinel, I think I've caught up with Orlando City's injury stats from the previous three years. I still haven't found if there's a good comparison site for average injuries across the MLS over the past few seasons, but I've got the names of several researchers that have published studies in peer-reviewed medical journals on soccer injuries, and I'm trying to find out if any of them can point me to any studies of league averages.
Summary of 2017 Findings
As bad as the 2017 season felt in the stands, it wasn't quite as bad in the training room as 2016 had been. From my research, it looks like only 15 Orlando City players suffered injuries that caused them to miss or be unavailable for matches, and two of those players were backup goalkeepers. I think what hurt so much last year was the fact that Orlando City raced out to a 5-1-0 start and was sitting atop the Eastern Conference table before they plummeted to Earth like Icarus flying too close to the sun.
But the season was front-loaded with injuries: going into the opening match four members of the first team roster had suffered injuries in Training Camp, then Kaka was injured 11 minutes into the season opener. On April 7, 2017, Orlando Sentinel beat reporter Alicia DelGallo had tallied that six players had been reported as injured by the club. Fortunately, the injury rate seems to have slowed after that. But other issues resulting in player arrests caused some members of the roster to miss time, and the team just seemed to implode in the second half regardless of who was on the pitch or off it.
What Will 2018 Hold?
Of course, we have all seen the dramatic overhaul in the roster since last season. But there's the worrying trend of injuries that have started trickling out in press releases and media reports since the team trained in Jacksonville last month. If my count is accurate, we've already exceeded last year's number of four pre-season injuries, and there's still 11 days to go until the MLS season starts for the Lions.
Let's hope that the team leaves all the injuries on the pre-season pitch and stops this trend once the season starts. The talent on the roster appears to have made a significant upgrade in the offseason in terms of proven veterans and inspired youth. But we're going to need to keep all those players healthy if Orlando City wants to finally reach the playoffs for the first time in the club's MLS era.