The emergence of Pedro Ribeiro at striker was a great early-season surprise for Orlando City in its first MLS campaign. However, the Brazilian has been sidelined for the past four weeks with a hamstring tear he suffered against D.C. United.
It's hard to say just how big of an impact his loss has been, but the Lions certainly haven't been in the best form since he's been out.
Pedro was at Orlando City's Sylvan Lake Park training ground to attend Sueño MLS and speak to some of the youth players attending the competition. We caught up with him afterwards and spoke about his injury and Orlando City's recent form. In exciting news for City fans, Ribeiro tells us that his rehab is ahead of schedule, and team doctors tell him he should be cleared to resume training in about two weeks.
"It’s very good." said Ribeiro regarding his recovery. "The doctors at first told me 8-10 weeks. It’s been four weeks as of today, and they’re saying it will be maybe two more."
From the sound of it though, they might not even be able to keep the Brazilian off the pitch for that long.
"I feel strong," Ribeiro said. "My mobility came back, strength is almost 100%, flexibility is back. The medical staff in Orlando is doing a great job. Of course, I haven't enjoyed being in the training room. I want to be on the field."
City has struggled in MLS matches since Ribeiro has been out, losing 3-0 and 2-0 to Columbus and Toronto respectively. The Lions did win their friendly against Ponte Preta later Saturday night, after we spoke. I asked Pedro how he's dealt with being unable to help the club during this difficult league run.
"For me, I feel like it was even worse personally, because I’m just helpless," Ribeiro said. "I try to help in the locker room, keeping their spirits up and motivating the guys. The last two results were not good, and they don’t really reflect how good of a team we are."
Given that he may need some time in training to regain match fitness, it's probably not realistic to expect Ribeiro back before the San Jose Earthquakes match on May 24. The second-year player was more worried about the team's next match than his own return though.
"We’re going to come back stronger after those two results," Ribeiro said. "New England next week should be a good game, and if we get that win, we’ll be in good shape."