clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Orlando City's Finally Seeing Production From Its Designated Players

New, 14 comments

It's been a long season for Orlando City's three designated players, but the Lions are finally seeing production from their trio in a time when it matters the most.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In Major League Soccer, when you put a Designated Player tag on a player, you expect that player to have an important role with your club. That's one of the biggest reasons why you don't see very many clubs shelling out the big bucks on defenders and goalkeepers.

Orlando City is one of the handful of clubs in the league that entered the season with all three of their designated player slots filled, but unlike most of those teams, the money they spent didn't lead to many minutes -- let along results -- showing up on the field for much of 2015.

Until now.

Kaká has been with the team all season, and has started in almost every game for which he's been available for selection. With a pair of assists on Friday night, the Lions' captain has recorded nine goals and seven assists in his first MLS season with the club.

However, the other two pieces of the DP puzzle -- striker Bryan Rochez and winger Carlos Rivas -- have seen their playing time limited this season due to injuries, poor form, and in one case, visa issues.

Rivas never got a shot at playing his more natural left wing position until late in the summer, when his form really started to pick up. He still hasn't scored a goal in MLS, but the Colombian winger has been a force on the left side of the midfield, running past defenders and creating opportunities for his teammates to score.

Rivas had arguably his best game of the season Friday in Orlando City's 5-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, picking up a pair of assists -- both on Cyle Larin goals -- off the bench, after replacing an injured Seb Hines late in the first half. While his shooting is still very erratic, he showed how dangerous he can be with his passes, finding Larin twice across the middle of the field with pinpoint passes to set up a pair of goals.

Still very young, Rivas has a very long way to go as a player -- remember, he's only in the first year of a five-year contract -- but his value is proving itself as Orlando City makes a push for the playoffs.

The same can be said about Rochez -- another Young Designated Player who's seen his playing time taken away by the rookie Larin, who's having a better season than anyone could have predicted, with 14 goals.

The Honduran striker has scored off the bench in each of Orlando City's past three games -- all wins -- while scoring the game-winning goals against both Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire. Like Rivas, it's clear that Rochez has a world of talent, and Orlando City could be making the wrong choice carrying both strikers on their roster entering 2016, because Rochez, as we've learned, is good when he's getting minutes, and as a designated player, you should want him getting the starting minutes, which won't happen with Larin ahead of him.

For now, however, he's finally producing, and at a time when Orlando City needs it the most.

Orlando City didn't see it's three designated players on the field together for the first time until July 18, when they hosted the Red Bulls at the Citrus Bowl. And on Friday night, against the very same Red Bulls team, the three contributed in a big win to keep their playoff hopes alive.