Orlando rookie Cyle Larin has been a revelation during his first MLS season. As Larin challenges for the rookie scoring record, it's hard to remember that coming into the season Orlando City didn't see him as the first choice striker. Larin was initially behind Martin Paterson, Bryan Róchez, and Pedro Ribeiro in the rotation. Injuries and inconsistency with those players have opened up the chance for Larin.
Behind Larin's 11-goal effort so far this season is the captain and star of the club, Kaká, who has contributed nine goals so far, many of those from the penalty spot.
Those 20 goals by two players account for the bulk of the scoring this season for Orlando City. In total, only eight players have hit the back of the net for the club. The other six players to score this season have contributed no more than one or two goals each. With four own-goals going in Orlando's favor this season, a bit of bad luck on the part of their opponents has become the third best option this season on offense.
To contrast this lopsided scoring effort by the Lions, consider the top teams in the Eastern Conference. D.C. United has had 14 players score this season, while New York Red Bulls have had 12 players score. In the West, the LA Galaxy also have 14 players that have found their way onto the scorer's sheet, with second-place Vancouver Whitecaps having had 13 players contribute goals this season.
It is too early to begin cutting up the 2015 MLS season on the autopsy table in search of the culprit for not achieving the level of success expected during Orlando City's inaugural campaign. Still, as the club continues to fight for its place in the playoffs, this imbalance in scoring will haunt the club.
As experienced clubs match up with Orlando, they will understand the game plan. Teams have learned to put multiple players on Kaká and frustrate him, while at the same time isolating Larin up top. If you do those two things, you stand a solid chance against Orlando due to the inconsistency of the other midfield and attacking players.
In theory, players like Carlos Rivas and Darwin Cerén should be able to contribute. Rivas has show flashes but has proven an unfinished product so far this season. Cerén and his defensive midfield partner Cristian Higuita have drawn praise for their play this season, but both seem to have their hands full on the defensive end of the ball and haven't contributed enough into the attack.
Certainly you have to account for the long-term absences of Kevin Molino and Brek Shea, two players who are critical to Orlando's attack and would have drawn coverage off of Kaká.
Again, like most of the problems this season, you have to point to a number of new players adjusting to a new league and soccer culture as well as injuries for curbing the ambitions of the Lions. The positive side of that coin of course is that next season the players will be better adjusted and (hopefully) healed up.
As the season's twilight is upon us, I continue to believe there are a number of players who should be using this shot to make their argument for playing time next season. With Kaká and Larin both gone this weekend for international duty, there is no time like the present.