Orlando this year has made a few moves that may help the club in the 2016 MLS season. The Lions brought in Kevin Alston, Joe Bendik Antonio Nocerino and have Kevin Molino returning from injury. Along with signings and trades, MLS teams attempt to better their squads through the SuperDraft. First instituted in 2000, the SuperDraft has certainly seen some busts, but there have also been bright spots.
Orlando's 2015 SuperDraft is a great example of the potential the draft can bring; Cyle Larin, the first-overall selection, set MLS on fire last year and destroyed the rookie scoring record. The Lions went into the SuperDraft this year knowing that they could stash players on the new OCB team and help those players grow in a competitive USL.
This piece however will look at comparable players to this year's seventh-overall draft pick, Richie Laryea, who Orlando chose with their first-round draft pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Laryea may start and end his season in the OCB outfit, but this article will consider that he will be on the senior side for the MLS season for at least some time in the 2016 season.
Looking at past statistical showdowns where The Mane Land compared the average statistics by position, taking that into account we will look at midfielders who fit the attacking mold that were chosen within the top 10 picks in the past five SuperDrafts and their on the field contributions to their respective clubs. There are always caveats to player contributions, such as injury, core players ahead of them on the depth chart, and other issues that lead to a lack of playing time. The only players that will not be included in this comparison will be players who were injured for more than 75 percent of matches played in that season.
Describing Richie Laryea as either a wide-playing midfielder or an attacking midfielder there are a dozen players over the past five years who were top ten picks in the SuperDraft that either filled or were intended to fill a role that Laryea could fill for Orlando. Some of those players included Darlington Nagbe, Nick DeLeon and Kelyn Rowe, as well more central players such as Kyle Bekker and Ethan Finlay--who played only 426 minutes in his rookie season.
Below is a quick look at the average stats per 90 minute averages from those players who compare to Richie Laryea in position as well as draft position.
Players in this comparison averaged approximately 1100 minutes in their rookie season with some playing much more and some playing less. Looking at the type of production from these young players we can see that from a goals and assists production standpoint these players did not make a huge impact, even considering that both Nick DeLeon and Luis Silva scored 11 goals in their rookie seasons combined, while both Kelyn Rowe and Luis Silva both had five assists. Some things that we do see from this type of player do come from incremental contributions in crossing and shots, and that pressure could help a team looking for substitute attacking help.
Considering the issues Orlando had with scoring at times last season the outlook for Laryea to become a problem solver from that point may be a bit far fetched. There are also log jams at the possible positions he is suited to play; looking at Kaká, Rivas, Molino and Winter filling the attacking and wide midfield roles as well as having Brek Shea and Nocerino available Laryea may find it hard to even step on the pitch. Although, if Orlando goes through the types of injuries and international call-ups that they did last year having more depth on the attacking front could see the first round pick find some valuable playing time for the senior side.
A move that may not be surprising within the coming weeks would see Richie Laryea start off with Orlando City B. From there OCSC could solve its current international player issue as they have 12 current on the roster and only 10 allowed, they can then let their new attacking midfielder grow into a confident role within the Lions setup so that he can be called up when needed.
Richie Laryea is definitely an exiting young player. Orlando City fans should be eagerly awaiting to see how great he can be.