At 17 years old, Tommy Redding is currently the youngest player on Orlando City’s youthful roster. Along with fellow Lion, Tyler Turner, the 6-foot-2 center back is among the elite players coming through the U.S. youth ranks.
Redding is certainly dubbed a prospect for the future, but don’t be fooled, the defender exceeded all expectations in the USL Pro last year. Redding made 15 appearances in his debut season for Orlando, and has put himself in a great position in the lead-up to the MLS season.
Redding’s fine play has been awarded with an MLS contract, which made him the club’s first ever homegrown player. Adrian Heath has been pleased with his young defender’s development and has since showered him with praise following their 2014 USL Pro season.
"It's fair to say he came on further than we thought," Heath said. "Toward the end of the season I thought he was our best defender. We'll see who we bring and take it from there, but he put himself in good position with his play at the back end."
It may be Orlando’s off-season, but the center back is certainly keeping busy. He made his U.S. U-20 National Team debut and will soon join the U.S. U-18 team for the January camp next month. Until then, he is spending several weeks in December training with Orlando’s affiliated Portuguese club, S.L. Benfica.
On his training stint with the Portuguese giants Redding commented:
"What I aim to get out of it is just really good play with high-level players. I'll learn a lot of positional things and I'll be working a lot on my technique. I think it'll be a great trip for me."
He has all the potential in the world and his development has been progressing at an incredible rate, but his mental maturity is his most impressive attribute. Redding’s attitude is well beyond his years and has grasped every opportunity laid before him.
There are not many 17-year-olds playing in Major League Soccer, so it would not be surprising to see Tommy Redding loaned out for Orlando’s inaugural season. However, he does offer Adrian Heath a unique mix of abilities that could prove useful for the Lions' back line.
While center back is his primary position, he has the technical ability to play in multiple positions and might be used as cover for the outside backs. Heath could use Redding’s versatility and add some needed depth to his roster.
Much of Redding’s fate admittedly depends on who the Lions bring into the team this offseason, however, he has put himself in the best possible position to be a part of Heath’s side as they embark on their MLS campaign in March.
At the rate the Florida native is progressing, don't be surprised if you see him feature for Orlando City next year.