After mysteriously disappearing from the Louisville City FC website without explanation Thursday, loanee Sidney Rivera was back at Orlando City training Friday after finishing his loan at the Lions' USL affiliate club. However, if all goes according to plan for Adrian Heath, Rivera, among others, won't be with the club for very long.
Asked directly today if the plan was to keep Rivera with the club, Heath responded with "no."
"We're trying to get some of the younger ones out now," Heath continued. "I think it's time they started to play. Tommy (Redding) is fit enough, (as well as) Conor (Donovan)...They need to go out and play some football."
Heath mentioned homegrown all-star Tyler Turner would likely be kept around as a backup to starting defender Rafael Ramos.
The timing is not a surprise. Orlando City has recently gotten quite a few players back from injury and the roster is starting to fill out, meaning many of the young players likely wouldn't even be in the 18 selection for a large portion of the rest of the season.
Rivera returned from his loan yesterday after a stretch in which he failed to find much time on the pitch with LCFC. He started in just one match and logged only 205 minutes over the eight games he appeared in.
"Obviously he hasn't played as much as we would have liked or as much as he would have liked," Heath said. "He has got to knuckle down. The next few months are very, very important for him."
The next few weeks could determine where Rivera winds up on loan or if a team wants him for a loan at all.
Development is paramount to building a successful expansion franchise and the likes of Redding, Donovan and Rivera won't be able to progress if they aren't getting time on the pitch. The 19-year-old Donovan and 18-year-old Redding each have yet to appear in a league match this season and made the 18 just twice -- although Donovan has played in a U.S. Open Cup match and both recently featured in the West Brom friendly.
With Louisville City's early success, developing young players in USL matches has become difficult, as the Kentucky-based side is playing the lineup it feels is best suited to success. That means Matt Fondy has been playing as the club's lone striker at the top of the 4-2-3-1, leaving little time for Rivera.
Next season, Orlando City will be able to farm out young players to a locally-based USL club that the technical staff will be able to more carefully control. But for now, finding playing time for the young Lions has proven tougher than expected.
What is your reaction to the decision to possibly loan out youngsters like Rivera, Redding and Donovan? Drop us a comment.