Soccer is a team game and I have talked in other tactical pieces about how it's important as a team to defend and work together. Orlando City does a great job moving the ball as a team and some of the best soccer can been seen when passes are connected amongst the team with possession.
Carlos Rivas defies that logic sometimes by his individual talent. There has been debate among fans about Rivas's playing time, as many people think he should play more and many think he will just strike balls into the parking lot.
What Drives Fans Crazy
Players like Kaká and Rivas are based on individual brilliance. They can do things on the field that other players just do not have the skill or creativity to pull off. Fans see them turn the ball over time and time again after a "fancy pass" or trying to dribble around a player one on one.
There are arguments that they need to play simpler and stop trying to take people on. We are taught when we learn the game of soccer to play simple or play the way you are facing. This is great when learning the game and, when we watch it, we want to see the ball be moved around the field -- and no one does it better than Orlando. The Lions have out-possessed nearly every team they have played, as long as they have 11 players on the field. The problem is the offense seems to fizzle out as Orlando gets into the final third. This is where players like Rivas shine.
That's So Rivas
Take into account every player on Orlando City's roster and answer this question: when it comes to shooting, who on the Lions has the best opportunity to score from distance and can be dangerous from all over the field? Some will say Cyle Larin can be dangerous, and he is fairly good on some strikes, like the one he had at Chicago earlier in the season.
I think Rivas is the most dangerous player from distance. We have see Rivas miss the frame a lot this year -- some by mere inches, and some by miles. The pace at which he strikes the ball makes him dangerous. Take a look at this strike against the New York Red Bulls, where goalkeeper Luis Robles makes a great save.
Rivas's ability to strike the ball with such pace is hard to duplicate. In fact, there are not many other players in MLS that can strike a ball with his pace. When things go well for Rivas, we get goals like his free kick gem against West Bromwich Albion and his strike against Columbus Crew in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16. The problem is, when you strike the ball with that pace, you are bound to get moments where the misses are by miles, or send a PK off frame like in the match against FC Dallas.
Rivas is also arguably one of the quickest players in MLS. Take this moment from the Chicago Fire match:
The Colombian is able to get out of a tight space and use his speed to draw a foul, and ultimately a yellow card, from Chicago defender Eric Gehrig.
This is the moment in this match where it clicked to me that manager Adrian Heath sees the upside to having Rivas on the field. He can individually break down a team with his technical skill. These players are unconventional and many times make decisions based on confidence. Heath can overlook the balls being repeatedly struck into Lake Eola because of his ability to change a match in an instant.
Rivas is a player that needs more time to become more consistent. He has been struggling with injuries and Heath may be holding him out of the lineup at times for precautionary reasons. Rivas's body of work this year should not be judged on the misses, but on the number of opportunities he has created. He is a player that has made a positive impact and has kept teams guessing.
Carlos is a player that will get even better when he gets more consistent time and confidence. Orlando fans just need to be patient and be okay with some moments of individual brilliance. He will turn the ball over, but there will be moments that will make it worth it.