Conor Donovan is an exciting prospect for Orlando City, albeit sometimes a forgotten one at a crowded position such as center back. The first pick in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Donovan came to City with extensive international experience, helping to anchor the back line of the United States U-17 and U-20 teams as recently as the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
When it comes to analyzing Donovan's MLS impact, the data available is laughably minimal. In 14 minutes, the 19-year-old professional completed all six of his passes, had an interception and committed two fouls before the Citrus Bowl turf decided it'd had enough of him.
Though his MLS season began and ended on Aug. 8 against the Philadelphia Union, it wasn't the entire story of his impact for this club.
Undoubtedly, Conor was at his best in the U.S. Open Cup against the long-time rival Charleston Battery. Not even 24 hours after arriving in Charleston from representing the United States in New Zealand, Donovan walked onto the pitch like the late great Roddy Piper in that iconic scene from They Live -- all set to kick ass and chew bubblegum, with a noticeable absence of bubblegum.
He set the tone early, blocking a Maikel Chang shot just eight minutes in. Donovan spent the next 95 minutes terrorizing any Charleston player that came within his personal space -- or, virtually the entire defensive third.
After finally subbing out at the 103-minute mark, it looked as though he had the Man of the Match designation all wrapped up. That is, until Earl Edwards Jr. hopped into his phone booth just before mesmerizing us all with his shootout heroics.
Opinions may vary here, but I for one am wildly high on Conor Donovan. The ACL tear is an obvious, discouraging setback, but this is a guy that can pair with Tommy Redding on that back line for a good chunk of the next decade. He's shown an ability to rise to the occasion for both the U.S. Open Cup and the U.S. national teams. He's big, strong and doesn't quit -- an army tank with a Ferrari engine -- and is sure to continue developing when his health returns. Next year could see him providing depth off the bench for the senior team while also staying fit by seeing time with Orlando City B.
2015 Final Rating
Another of our incomplete grades goes to Conor as a result of his limited play before his knee gave out, although he did receive an unofficial 5 from my fellow Mane Landers. In his brief appearances, he showed a cool demeanor with a heady style -- rarely caught out of position or overextending himself. The fundamentals look to be in place for a long, prosperous career in the City Beautiful for the young Generation Adidas player.