Tony Rocha came to Orlando as a young prospect that signed with Orlando City B to begin the 2016 season and eventually made an impression on the Lions staff, earning him a call up to the MLS side.
After playing his first 19 games with OCB, Rocha was signed to an MLS contract on Aug. 4, and was able to provide depth to the lineup in the defensive and attacking midfield. The Texan appeared in eight games, which all came in succession from August to September, not appearing in the final four games.
The 23-year-old appeared in eight total MLS matches, which all came in succession from August to September, without appearing in any of the final four games. He finished the season with two starts and 298 minutes played.
He only took four shots this season, none of them on target. He averaged 1.6 tackles per game, 0.6 interceptions and a team-high 87.7% passing accuracy, albeit in less games than most of the team. He did not score a goal or record an assist, committed seven fouls, and was booked once.
With the small sample size, it's a bit hard to pick a ‘best game' for Rocha. But if you had to, it would be the game against Toronto where he played a full 90 minutes for the only time in MLS this year. Despite the team losing, Rocha made an impact in the midfield and helped shut down a very potent Toronto attack as well as created chances offensively through the midfield. As written in the player grades for that night:
Despite what seemed like a quiet night (which is usually a really good thing for a defensive midfielder), the youngster created a game-high four chances and a game-high 93.8% passing accuracy. That's right. He created more chances than Giovinco, Kaká, or Michael Bradley. In fact, Orlando as a team created eight chances and he had half of them. Seven of his eight long balls were accurate. Defensively, he had three tackles and an interception against one of the best midfields in MLS.
Back with OCB, Rocha had a number of good games, and scored this belter of a goal against Wilmington, with yours truly on the call.
2016 Final Grade
Once again, due to the small sample size of his work, Rocha only gets an incomplete in terms of player ratings. He was a good passer, solid defender, and remains a promising future player, but he didn't get enough playing time for a full comprehensive grade.
There's no reason to think that Rocha is not in the future plans of Orlando City. Obviously, Jason Kreis and the coaching staff think highly enough of both Rocha and Mikey Ambrose to bring them up from OCB to the MLS team. The Lions have predicated themselves on growing their young players since joining MLS and Rocha is a prime example of that. Expect him to have a bit of a bigger role as a reserve player than this past year.