Kevin Molino has seen it all in Orlando. Having been with Orlando City since its inception, the Trinidad and Tobago international has had his ups and downs in his career in the United States. His game has adapted every year and, whether it be scoring or creating, he's always been a key to Orlando's attack.
However, this year is a bit of a transition for the 24-year-old. Not only is almost the entire team different from last year, but he's playing with and against better competition.
After scoring the most goals he has ever scored in his career last year in USL, Molino has looked a bit more apprehensive when it comes to scoring in 2015. Many pundits and media have commented that he looks a bit lost in the final third and tends to use Kaká as a safety blanket. Those who know Molino's game last year know he can be a confident finisher in the final third.
One of the biggest possible differences, other than the upgrade in competition, is his position. For his first three years in USL, Molino played on the right wing. He tallied only seven goals and 13 assists for those years, and won the 2012 MVP of the league.
However, in 2014 he made the move to central attacking mid and the game subsequently opened up for him. Molino controlled the game for the Lions and was the primary scoring threat, putting the ball in the back of the net 20 times and added nine assists to lead the USL in both categories. That one-season tally was more than all his other seasons combined and his assist number was almost as good.
This year, Molino is back on the right wing and is seemingly back to his old self, which isn't a good thing for him. Even off the field, he seems a bit more reserved and to himself, like he was his first few years with the club, rather than how he was last year. He was confident and flamboyant in his personality and play. In press conferences, he was outgoing and always happy to answer questions, but now he's keeping his answers short.
So, what does this mean for Molino this year? Well, in my honest opinion, he will most likely struggle a bit. He will have his moments and flashes of brilliance, but he's still making adjustments to the new league, new teammates and new competition.
I have all the confidence in Molino that he will become one of the best players in the league, but that may take some time. Orlando's coaching staff and fans have all the faith in the world in "Hot Boy" and for those who are critical of him, they will find out soon enough what he can do.