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Pressure Will Be on Donovan Ricketts as Tally Hall Nears Return

With presumptive starter Tally Hall nearing return between the sticks for Orlando City, Donovan Ricketts may be feeling pressure to prove himself as the starting goalkeeper.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City made a swift move ahead of its inaugural MLS season by trading for Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. The move seemed to ensure that arguably the most important position on the field would be covered for years to come. But then disaster struck when, following the agreement with Houston, Hall tore his ACL, putting him out of action indefinitely.

The injury was expected to keep Hall out of the lineup until at least June, leaving the Lions with a big gap in their starting lineup that they thought had been filled. Going into an important off-season in which the club had many spots to fill, starting goalkeeper became one of the primary objectives. It was expected that the club would either look to one of its young goalkeepers or a possible loan with Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland was floated around.

However, Orlando City surprised everyone with the decision to select a goalkeeper first overall in the MLS Expansion Draft. Even more of a surprise was when the selection was Portland Timbers and former Jamaican international goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

Many questioned the decision due to the large salary Ricketts was due to receive. But with the Timbers desperate to unload the 37-year-old and agreeing to pick up much of his salary, it was a no-brainer for the Lions. Ricketts would handle the job until Hall was ready to take over.

Upon inclusion in the squad, Ricketts was given the number one shirt as starting goalkeeper. However, the Jamaican was not planning on retiring, so with it came the pressure of putting in performances that would force head coach Adrian Heath to keep him ahead of Hall when the future starter was healthy.

Through the first five games of the season, Ricketts has played well but not quite well enough to stay on the field once Hall is ready. Orlando City has dominated possession for large amounts of time, leaving Ricketts with few saves to make. But even with those few opportunities, Ricketts has had some moments in which more would be expected of him.

As Hall continues to gain strength, his return is coming up quickly. That makes the next few games for Ricketts vital if he wishes to keep his spot between the posts. Ricketts has yet to prove that once Hall returns, it would be detrimental to take him off the field.

Hall had been training on his own, but has now joined the rest of the team's goalkeepers, proving his return is near. Heath has stated that Hall could be ready to take part in a game in two to three weeks. This makes Ricketts' next few games even more important. If he is unable to prove that he is a better option than Hall, Ricketts could soon be headed for the bench.

But with Portland, Columbus, and Toronto on the horizon, he'll have his opportunity to prove himself one last time.