Through two years in the purple, Carlos Rivas still remains Orlando City’s biggest mystery. Is he a raw youngster developing into a future superstar, or is he destined for inconsistency?
The 22-year-old from Jamundí had some stellar moments in 2016 with the club, but for each of his standout performances, he had another filled with a whole bunch of meh. He spent much of the season in and out of the lineup while fans watched the club struggle to find a striker to pair with Cyle Larin and a midfielder to play on the left side.
Rivas’ issues this season continued to stem from consistency. The Designated Player shows a flair for the attack that rivals anyone on the team. But, despite his ability to create consistent chances going forward, he often fails to convert them, much to the ire of the fans and coaching staff.
Let’s take a look at Rivas’ second year with the club.
Rivas appeared in 21 games in 2016, earning eight starts, and playing a total of 799 minutes. All of those numbers are down from 2015, when he made 27 appearances, 13 starts, and more than 1,300 minutes.
Despite fewer opportunities, Rivas was more productive in this year’s campaign. He scored his first career regular-season goal with the club. His first goal came in April against the New England Revolution after subbing on for the final nine minutes. He added two more regular-season goals — one against Philadelphia and one against Montreal. His three goals came on 34 shots, compared to going 0-for-63 in 2015.
Rivas also added four assists in regular season play, which matched his 2015 season total. Where Rivas struggled this season was in his passing. His 71.4% passing percentage, according to whoscored.com, was 23rd out of 25 listed players. He was in front of only goalkeeper Joe Bendik and former defender Aurélien Collin.
Rivas’ best game came in September against Montreal, when the Colombian put together his best 90 minutes, registering a goal and an assist.
Rivas earned Man of the Match with that performance. After the game, The Mane Land’s Jeremy Croston wrote:
This was the Rivas we wanted. This was the Rivas we deserved. He played a very helter-skelter game tonight and was rewarded with a late goal to go along with his two helpers. With Larin out, he played the forward position to perfection and showed the kind of game that will help the playoff push tremendously.
This is the perfect example of Rivas showing us all how good he could be — and it almost matches how good he thinks he is. But what drives fans nuts is only seeing this Rivas once or twice a year. Consistency is the No. 1 key to him earning more time in 2017.
2017 Final Rating
The Mane Land gives Rivas a 5 as his final grade. Rivas showed the ability to earn some strong grades, but the inconsistency takes its toll over an entire season. The talent is clear in Rivas, but the club is still left wondering what his ceiling (and his floor) truly is.
Again, we don’t really know what to expect. On one hand, you could argue Rivas is poised for a breakout as he turns 23 and enters his third season in MLS. On the other hand, one may ask what signs point to him being anything more than the inconsistent player we’ve seen. His playing time, and likely his future on the team, rests on his ability to be able to string multiple strong performances together, and limiting letdown performances.
My personal opinion is the club should let Rivas play and try to work through his inconsistencies in hopes of a breakout campaign.