As you may have noticed, the off-season is here and Orlando City’s second campaign in MLS is officially over. Just as our own Wade Williams has done all year, it’s time to bring you the Stock Watch report one last time in 2016, Season in Review edition.
There was some bad this year, but also handsome amount of good. Some players rose, some fell, naturally.
So, let’s get down to business.
Whose Stock Rose?
Kevin Molino — No player in MLS has a better case to win Comeback Player of the Year than Molino, who came back from a torn ACL after missing all but seven games last season to score 11 goals and assist on eight goals for the Lions, all while missing Kaká for a decent chunk of the season. The Trinidad and Tobago international had the kind of season that everyone in Orlando thought he could have in MLS, it just took a little bit longer for him to have the chance to show it.
Without Molino, who knows where Orlando City would have ended up this season — still out of the playoffs, of course, but, you know, lower in the standings.
Joe Bendik — There’s no denying Bendik saw his stock rise through the roof in Orlando this season. The 27-year-old started all 34 games for the Lions, posted five shutouts, made 114 saves (second most in the league), and let in 60 goals on 178 shots faced — no other goalkeeper faced as many shots as Bendik did. And among those 114 saves were a bevy of highlight-reel stops, which ultimately landed him 12 Save of the Week awards, more than any other goalkeeper (if fan-voted awards mean anything).
Orlando City wasn’t sure what it had in front of the goal coming into the season with Bendik and Earl Edwards Jr. battling for the starting job, but it’s safe to say they made out pretty well with Bendik, who will look to add to his legacy in Orlando in Year 2.
Tommy Redding — Tommy took a big step this year in solidifying his place among the elite young center backs in the league. As a 19-year-old, you’re expected to make some blunders, which Redding did from time to time, but at the same time, when Redding was good, he was really good. The Lions’ first Homegrown Player went up against some fierce competition in 2016 and almost always handled it with the ability of an All-Star level defender. The preseason is going to be important for Redding, who will still have to earn his starting spot under Jason Kreis, should the new gaffer decide youth is still the right way to go. His stock, though, rose nicely this season.
Antonio Nocerino — I’m going to try to say this as nicely as possible: Nocerino did not have much room to fall this season. Just the drama to sign him, alone, raised his expectations pretty high among fans, especially considering he wasn’t filling any roster need when he was bought, so getting off to a disastrously slow start didn’t help. He was eventually benched under Adrian Heath, and made his way back into the lineup when Kreis gave him a chance. Only then did he finally thrive.
Nocerino didn’t score for Orlando this season, which isn’t that big of a deal for a sit back midfielder-type like Nocerino, but he finally looked more comfortable as the season went on, and eventually became an important piece in the midfield for Orlando City. When he missed games it was noticeable — and not in a bad way. You couldn’t say that about him in March-July.
Overall, Nocerino saw a nice rise in his stock.
Who’s Stock Fell?
Brek Shea — You saw this one coming, I’m guessing. We finally got the opportunity to see Shea play in his natural midfield position, and the results weren’t that much more satisfying. Orlando City is paying Shea a lot of money — $595,000 according to the most recent figures released by the Players’ Union — and in his two seasons with the Lions he’s only scored three goals (all this season). It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the club tries — and succeeds — at moving Shea this winter. His expensive contract and lack of production make is difficult to justify keeping him around at this point, and if Kreis does move to the 4-4-2, then his fitting in with the team becomes even less likely.
Bryan Rochez — Rochez’s stock is at an all-time low with Orlando City. The Lions’ DP striker didn’t make any appearances for the club this season, instead playing a handful of games with OCB (where he did score a pair of goals), missed the club’s preseason due to fitness issues, and was eventually loaned back to his home club in Honduras in July. Rochez is very much Carlos Rivas in a lot of ways in that both are incredibly talented, still raw, always show flashes, but rarely put it all together in matches. The only difference is that Rivas at least stays fit enough to play for the club.
But I’m not trying to knock on Rochez for that. There has clearly been some struggles adjusting to life in America, being away from his family, and he looks much more comfortable in Honduras. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of opportunity — if any — he gets from Kreis in the preseason.
Seb Hines — Seb’s best moment this season was scoring four goals in a preseason match against Clube Bahia at Camping World Stadium. And then the regular season came around.
Hines struggles to maintain a consistent level of play, was caught out of position and beat by defenders way too often this season, and struggled with injuries sprinkled throughout the season.
He’s still good in the air, at least.
David Mateos — Like Shea, Mateos is on a big contract and not producing the results his bosses would probably prefer. Mateos showed some promise with the club last season as a summer signing, but took a big step back in 2016. He was consistently in foul trouble — eight yellows and one red card this season to back 1.2 fouls per game — and like Hines was caught making bonehead plays too often.
In terms of a center back pairing, Hines and Mateos weren’t what the Lions were hoping for this season.