A captain in soccer is an important, though often symbolic, role. It can be used to inspire players to take a greater leadership role but, more often than not, the armband is issued to the player that becomes the face of the team. In addition to being the leader on the field, it's also given to a player that has the temperament to control his emotions on the field and keep his fellow players calm by commanding respect of those around him.
Orlando City had multiple captains throughout the club’s time in the USL, with the armband more often than not going to goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. When the club made the transition to MLS, which saw the majority of the USL players' contracts not renewed, the armband went to superstar Kaká.
Without a natural captain on the roster, it makes sense that they would give that role to the Brazilian. But Kaká will likely only be in Orlando for one more season. At that point, the club will want to look for the player that can fill this role for the foreseeable future. They may already know who that player is.
Since Jason Kreis has taken over as head coach for the Lions, he has asked certain things out of certain players. For center back Tommy Redding, it's been to be more vocal. Kreis is looking for the 19-year-old Oviedo native to be a leader on the Lions' back line. But it's not just to make him a better defender. Kreis may see Redding as Kaká's successor as captain.
It may seem like a stretch for some to say Redding, who will likely be 21 years old when the first season without Kaká comes around, will be the next captain. But is it a stretch? Club President Phil Rawlins has talked at length about the youth culture of Orlando City and how the team wants to build for the future. We're already seeing that with several academy players having made appearances for OCB and many likely to be on the reserve team's roster next year. So 21 isn't as old for Orlando City as it may seem.
Additionally, after joining the team prior to the 2014 USL season, Redding is the third longest tenured Lion after Kevin Molino and Luke Boden. And with Orlando City likely to find a more adequate replacement for Boden as starting left back next season, Redding will be the second longest tenured starter.
As for experience in that leadership position, Redding has recently started to see that responsibility placed on him by Tab Ramos. Redding is currently taking part in the Four Nations Tournament with the United States U-20 National Team. After Tottenham Hotspur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers wore the armband in the opening game against Germany, Redding was given the honor of captaining his country for the team's second game against the Netherlands. Despite the fact that it was done due to the absence of Carter-Vickers, it shows what coaches think of the 19-year-old.
When Kaká came to Orlando City, everyone knew it was only for a short period of time. And it wasn't a surprise to see him given the armband considering that all but two players on the senior team had joined the club within the last two years. But, with the club's second MLS season coming to an end, you can start to see who the leaders of the team are and who are expected to become leaders. Certainly the next captain will be the one for years to come.
With Kreis' declaration that he expects Redding to be a leader on the back line and his experience now at the international level of being captain, it's becoming clear that Redding is seen as the Lions' potential captain-in-waiting. And when it's all put together, a local kid, central defender, with Kreis wanting to be a vocal leader, it only makes sense that he'll be the next to wear the armband for Orlando City.