One of the biggest unknowns this season for Orlando City has been 20-year-old Honduran striker Bryan Rochez -- a designated player by name, but not by his play.
Between fitness concerns, playing for Honduras in the U-20 World Cup, and subsequently, being stuck outside of the United States with passport issues, Rochez hasn't seen much playing time in his first season with Orlando City. He's only played in 12 games -- all off of the bench -- and on Sunday night against Sporting KC, he collected his first career Major League Soccer goal, doing the thing Lions fans hoped he'd do more often for them this season.
Rochez looked like one of Orlando City's best players last weekend in New England, when the Revolution pounded out a 3-0 victory. And last night, he came off of the bench and made an immediate impact with a goal after just 10 minutes on the field.
Could this rise in form -- coupled with a recent dip from Cyle Larin -- mean more playing time for Rochez down the stretch?
"We still have the hope of making into the playoffs and we will continue to compete until the last game," Rochez said after the match. "I had a tough time in New Zealand (and) fighting through injuries. I have had to work harder than usual to get back into shape. At this point, it is up to the coach to play me when he sees fit."
Adrian Heath said it during the summer transfer window that acquiring a striker would be important for the club because he thought at some point Larin would break down, not being used to this increased workload in just his first year out of college. And it seems like we've reached that point with the Rookie of the Year contender.
Larin hasn't scored in almost a month and a half, since he netted two against the Columbus Crew on August 1. Possibly running out of gas? That seemed to certainly be the case on Sunday, as Larin played his third game in nine days, and looked completely exhausted on the sidelines after coming out in the 56th minute.
"We expected at some stage that Cyle Larin would be tired." Heath told reporters. "He has never played this long in his career, and certainly with this intensity. I felt that he looked a little bit leggy and there wasn't that zip in his legs. We thought it would be a good chance for Bryan Róchez to come in and give us a lift, which he did. He put people under pressure. It was a good night for Bryan because it's been a difficult and frustrating first season for him. It was nice for him I am really pleased for him."
Maybe Larin's not completely out of gas, but using him less often in favor of Rochez down the stretch could be beneficial for Orlando City, getting fresher legs in the lineup with Rochez, who's been the more dangerous striker lately for the Lions.
Whoever the Lions go with next Saturday, they'll need nothing less than a result against the Chicago Fire. And maybe some goals from Bryan Rochez.