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2021 Player Profile: Everton Luiz

The enforcer, returning for another year, was a vital part of RSL’s 2021 run.

MLS: Playoffs- Semifinals-Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Everton Luiz seems to be a player who splits the fan base opinion pretty regularly. But if you know what you’re looking for when evaluating the performances of the aging midfielder you’ll see a lot of fun trends that developed over the past season for the Brazilian enforcer.

2021 by the numbers

His mainstay performances for the club continued as expected with what seemed to be a slight miss in his step which has been noticed by fans ever since his knee injury in the 2019 season. Being fair to the ferocious midfielder his numbers have all but waned and 2021 we saw a lot of what we all fell in love with so quickly with Everton. He played in 27 games this season — starting in 21 of them — notching a total of 1,872 minutes between regular season and playoff contention. During that time he was able to intercept the ball 31 times (5th on the team) and contributed with his lights-out passing percentage of 88 percent, doing just slightly worse than our former captain Albert Rusnak.

Everton kept up with his typical run of form by committing 60 Everton-style tackles which gave us the bite that we love to see from him. He also participated in 224 duels, winning 55.8 percent. Marcelo Silva, Nick Besler, and Andrew Brody are the only players to see better performances on this stat line. His midfield-mate and typical partner Pablo Ruiz had a 40.7 percent duel success rate in 2021.

Luiz committed a total of 30 fouls (fifth-most on the team) seven of which went into the books as yellow cards and received a relieving zero red cards this season and postseason combined. He tied for second on the team for yellow cards with Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera.

He definitely still brought that same tenacious drive to the field but unfortunately, he brought along with him a few too many cards during the playoffs and ended up suspended for our final bout of the season. His presence and the return of our disinterested captain — from health and safety protocols — did not allow for room for error in that match. Eventually, a few of those errors were made and RSL was knocked out of the playoffs by the Portland Timbers.

Moving forward

As of 2021, Everton was near the top of our salary table and due to his age and history of injuries, it wasn’t a surprise to see his name surfaced on the Expansion Draft Eligibility list at the time his previous contract was ending. Near the middle of January, a few rumors came across the wire that made it seem that we were pursuing other interests and we even picked up Scott Caldwell, a stalwart veteran who looks to not just add depth but win over some minutes this season.

We also heard whispers that we were still in negotiations to re-sign a new contract with Everton and our friends over at Broadway Media ended up breaking the news in mid-January that we had inked a one-year deal with our favorite Brazilian midfielder. It wouldn’t be confirmed by the club until nearly over a week following the original news break.

Uncertain futures

With a variety of rumors on the front, it’s clear that we remain focused on continuing to shore up our midfield. To me it is is a no-brainer that Everton seems to be a part of that roadmap. We are still uncertain of how much of an impact to his salary this new deal has taken, but whispers across the rumor mill are showing a near half a million decrease in earnings. I see this as a player who likes it here and he genuinely wants to play here. From my previous conversations with Everton, he never fails to mention that he and his family constantly feel welcome and well supported here at the club . So this wouldn’t surprise me to say the least.

What is not certain is how many minutes we see from Luiz this season nor do we know in which combinations of our (now seemingly and soon-to-be rather deep and dangerous) talent we will find him playing in. I truly think that for the money and minutes we have ourselves a wonderful veteran talent who can age like a fine wine with some flashy talent around him. I personally would love to see his minutes wind down a bit as that bite he can provide is often hard to watch in sticky situations. Pairing him up with Scott Caldwell or Pablo Ruiz provides us two pretty awesome midfield sets.

It’s pretty obvious that the club is still on the search for patching one of our most glaring holes in this defensive midfielder position. If things go the way the rumor wire is reporting we may see less and less of the “Enforcer” or maybe we see more of him as the no. 2 bash brother? Maybe just maybe we get to see him alongside an international superstar one day? Maybe that kind of teammate at his side unlocks that fierce mentality and relentless torque we’ve seen so many times out of the speedy talent? I for one love the guy on a cheaper contract and reduced minutes.

How do you perceive Everton Luiz? Are you as excited as I am that we’ve found a way to make it work? Or because you just can’t help cheer for the guy? Let me know in the comments below!