It's been said before, but let's say it again: Orlando City was built to win now -- but more importantly, tomorrow, and every day that follows it.
The club has invested heavily in youth. In 2015, Adrian Heath trotted out nine players 21 years old or younger -- most of any team in the league -- and carried a total of 11 U-21s on the roster. While the Lions missed out on the playoffs last season, ultimately it'll pay off in the end.
One of those young men is Carlos Rivas, who came over to the United States as an exciting prospect last winter. Rivas, one of Orlando City's three Designated Players last season, was a frustrating player. A lot. He never scored (in MLS competition, that is; he did score in a couple of friendlies and U.S. Open Cup matches), and was consistently shooting the ball 22 rows deep.
But don't take that as everything about the young Colombian's season.
There was slow progression and improvement throughout the season, and more promising play down the stretch.
Now, Rivas heads into 2016 -- maybe his most important year he'll have at Orlando City -- where he'll be counted upon to provide his blazing speed and, hopefully, goals from the left side of the pitch. Already this preseason, he's drawing some encouraging reviews from training (yesterday's hamstring injury notwithstanding), including this tweet from Lions beat reporter Paul Tenorio:
Bobby Murphy has clearly connected with Carlos Rivas, and it's paying off. Rivas' understanding of runs is improving. Light bulb. Uh oh, MLS— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) February 6, 2016
It's only training -- in February...the first week of February, at that -- but it's still good to hear Rivas is picking up where he left off last October.
2016 is a big year for the kid. Orlando City fans are going to be watching him closely, waiting to see the talent we hear so much about.
With rumors swirling about Orlando City trying to sign Antonio Nocerino from AC Milan this winter -- a signing that would in most situations have Rivas sitting on the bench -- it's best for the Lions to stop looking and trust their gut: let Rivas handle this one. It's the only way to let him development.
You started this process, Orlando City, now you have to trust it.