There's a popular hashtag on MLS social media that people like to use -- #PlayYourKids. Basically, when you play your young players -- your kids, so to speak -- good things can usually come out of it in the long run. Sort of like September call-ups in baseball for your best prospect, or getting that rookie quarterback minutes for your 2-8 football team.
If there's an opportunity to get a young player minutes at the first team level, then take that opportunity and go with it.
Orlando City has done a great job with that since entering MLS -- maybe not by choice, however, as the club had the youngest team in the league last season -- and has continued to run with the idea this season.
One of the most notable new faces to the starting lineup has been Homegrown defender Tommy Redding, who only made one start with the club last season. Redding has started both of the Lions' games this year in place of the injured David Mateos, and has looked very comfortable at center back so far.
While, as a whole, the defense hasn't looked all too fantastic for Orlando City on the young campaign, Redding has turned in a couple of solid performances to start the year. With an acceptable effort against Real Salt Lake last week, he followed up with another quality outing on Friday night against the Chicago Fire.
He did have a couple of slip-ups -- nothing too damaging -- but was one of the Lions' best players on a night where there were very few good performances to talk about.
Redding completed 96.1% of his passes, a game high for either side, and was all over the field on defense with three tackles and a 7.3 match rating, according to WhoScored.com -- the highest for Orlando City and third highest in the match.
At just 19 years old, Redding is one of the youngest players on Orlando City's roster, but he's played at times like a center back with years of professional experience. It's probably one of the reasons fans and the coaching staff are so high on this kid's potential -- myself included.
Redding's ability will face another tough test this week when the Lions travel to Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC's star-studded attack that includes David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Mix Diskerud, and Tommy McNamara.