Sunday afternoon Orlando City took on the Eastern Florida State College Titans in the first preseason game of 2016. There were several positive aspects that can be taken away from the 4-0 win but here are the top five.
Hadji Barry Plays with Confidence
It may sound simple, but Orlando City's (second) first-round draft pick, striker Hadji Barry, plays with a tremendous amount of confidence. On Sunday, albeit against a lesser opponent, Barry was more than willing to take on defenders and create his own shot. The fact that he wasn't passive and looking for his more professionally experienced teammates is a positive sign for the young striker.
Oh yeah, and his first half brace didn't hurt either.
Richie Laryea is the Real Deal
All week, while the Lions were in Melbourne, we heard Adrian Heath praise Richie Laryea as the next Kevin Molino. Based on his performance Sunday afternoon, Heath was right. Like Barry, Laryea played with a lot of confidence against the NSCAA national runners-up. Laryea's speed and skill with the ball were impressive but what was most notable was the 21-year-old Toronto native's control in tight situations. With an aging Kakà, have we found the superstar's eventual replacement?
A Controlled Rafael Ramos Can Dominate a Game
While Barry got most of the headlines with two of the four goals, right back Rafael Ramos was the most dangerous man on the field. This may not come as a surprise to many Orlando City fans who saw him play last year, but EFSC had absolutely no answer for Ramos except to bring him down. An aspect that Ramos has clearly been working on was his crossing, and that was evident on Sunday. Some have criticized Ramos' service ability but he continually sent deadly balls into the box Sunday, giving the Lions multiple opportunities to increase their lead. So long as Ramos can control his emotions during games, he'll continue to be a dangerous force this season.
Pedro Ribeiro is a Striker
One thing that's well known about Pedro Ribeiro is his versatility. In college, he played in the midfield for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. After being drafted by the Philadelphia Union and sent on loan to the Harrisburg City Islanders, he played mostly center back for the USL side. Since joining Orlando City, Ribeiro's spent ample time up top. Ribeiro was dominating on Sunday up top, using his big body to hold up play and lay off passes to midfielders Mikey Ambrose and Harrison Heath. While Cyle Larin will undoubtedly be Orlando's number nine for the foreseeable future, Ribeiro can be a strong presence off the bench.
Tyler Turner is Versatile
Versatility may not seem that important but in MLS it is. Due to the league's insistence on not abiding by the FIFA international calendar, Orlando City will lose players multiple times throughout the 2016 season to international call-ups. Turner, typically a right back, was used at left midfield Sunday by Adrian Heath and didn't look out of place. He was able to play well out wide and put himself in dangerous situations in the final third, even scoring a goal. While Turner will spend much of the 2016 season with OCB, his new found versatility could come in very helpful later in the season.
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We'll see if these takeaways turn into trends as the 2016 preseason continues.