The Carlos Rivas experiment is only nine games in. Just let that sink in for a bit. Nine games into his tenure as an Orlando City player, Rivas seems to get a lot of attention due to his pedigree coming into the team.
Originally brought in to be a Designated Player under salary requirements, the 21-year-old Colombian is now paired up with Kaká and Bryan Róchez as the team's three DPs. With that player tag now attached to him, there is a lot more pressure to perform right out of the gate.
Both Róchez and Rivas have fallen short of early fan expectations but, as I said in the beginning, their tenures with the club are still fairly new. Róchez, only 20, and Rivas both left their native countries, families, and everything they've known to come play soccer in the United States. This change can be quite daunting, especially with such a short time to get acclimated.
In the case of Rivas, he has had his opportunities this season. He started the first two games at striker before suffering a hamstring injury towards the end of the Houston game. After missing the next three games, Rivas has since been used as a "super sub" off the bench, being brought on for the last 15 to 20 minutes of the game to add a little pace and an attacking mindset.
While this new role seems to be working so far, the debate continues about what Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath should do with him.
Since the season-ending injury to Kevin Molino, many fans and journalists have recommended putting Rivas on the right wing, which would allow him to cut inside and get more chances with his predominant left foot. Others suggest that he should try playing at the striker position again, after seeing his considerable speed while playing against NYCFC.
While there is no right answer to this question, there are a lot of contributing factors.
The coaching staff and the team are really the only ones who truly know the mental and physical status of their players. Even media members only get information that the club is willing to let us know about. Everyone on the outside can say all they want, but at the end of the day, we must refer back to the old saying "In Inchy We Trust" and believe that the coaching staff knows the best way to handle Rivas' unique situation.
In my opinion, Rivas' current role with the team as a super sub fits him just fine within the construct of the side. Too many changes within the lineup can mess with the chemistry that the starters have spent the last few months cultivating. There are also injuries and suspensions that need to be taken into account, so the fewer moves that need to be made, the better.
Come tonight's game, we shall see if coach Heath decides to implant him into the lineup, or keep the status quo and go with what he has these past few games.