While it was the debut of Designated Player Kaká that dominated the headlines after last Wednesday's closed-door friendly between FC Dallas and Orlando City SC, another new signing had a solid outing. Martin Paterson, on loan from English Championship side Huddersfield Town, has arrived in Orlando's training camp ready to get his career back on track after a number of injury setbacks.
While Paterson possesses most of the skills expected of an advanced striker, including a nice touch on the ball, composure in front of the goal, and a solid short passing game, it is an intangible that might make him a favorite in Head Coach Adrian Heath's rotation this season. Paterson plays the attacking position with a high work rate and determination -- not unlike Heath in his younger days.
While not the fastest player on the team, Paterson has the quickness and on-field intelligence to break offside traps. It's a tactic often employed by Heath in the past with former Lion Denis Chin. With Bryan Rochez, another Designated Player, expected to start up top, Paterson could play a similar super-sub role when the club is looking for late goals.
Additionally, Paterson can play as an attacking midfielder on the right wing, giving Heath another option off the bench.
Paterson's determination, speed, and work rate could see him challenging for a starting spot, especially with Rochez a late addition to training camp.
Persistent injuries have plagued Paterson's career and held him back from the more consistent production that highlighted his early career. Recent loan stints at English League One clubs Fleetwood Town and Bristol City saw him play only 11 games, finding the net once. The best season of Paterson's career came in 2008, when he featured 57 times and scored a team-leading 19 goals to help Burnley reach promotion to the English Premier League.
The player has also been capped 22 times by Northern Ireland, adding three goals in all appearances.
Paterson has every chance of revitalizing his career in Orlando. In a recent interview, the player said he understood the competition he will be up against in MLS.
"I'm here to work hard and get goals. I'm under no illusion of how hard it's going to be to be a success here."
Most promising for Paterson in the early preseason is his work with Kaká. His goal against FC Dallas was set up by the Brazilian former player of the year, while Paterson later returned the favor by setting up Kaká's first goal for the club from the penalty spot. It was Paterson's work rate and pressing defense in the attacking end that set up the eventual foul on the Northern Irish striker.
A high work rate, an ability to finish chances, and a touch of speed -- all things the newly formed Orlando City Lions will need in the coming season. If Paterson can stay healthy, he has every chance of contributing to the 2015 MLS campaign.