Júlio Baptista may be just what Bryan Róchez needs

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Júlio Baptista looks set to force Bryan Róchez out of the Orlando City squad and push him down to OCB for the foreseeable future and that is not a bad thing for any party involved.

"Lucky" is not a term that would be used to describe Bryan Róchez's first 15 months as a Lion. Signed on as a Young Designated Player in December 2014, excitement was high around one of Honduras' brightest prospects. At only 19 years old, he had made his debut for the Honduras national team and he came in with a blistering 29 goals in a mere 59 appearances for Real C.D. España. Unfortunately for Róchez, he struggled to get into Orlando City's matchday squad. He was stuck behind budding sensation Cyle Larin, Northern Ireland striker Martin Paterson and even Pedro Ribeiro on the depth chart and minutes looked difficult to come by.

Then he lost his passport in New Zealand and was stranded for six weeks. What had been a bright performance in the U-20 World Cup turned into disaster. When he returned stateside, he struggled to regain full fitness. Eventually, he would roar back and ignite the Lions' playoff hopes with game-winners against Sporting Kansas City and the Chicago Fire. OCSC supporters got a taste of his talent, his positioning, his effort. Without his late game heroics, Orlando would not have been within reach of the playoffs. In 2016, he looked poised to challenge Cyle Larin for playing time. But another injury with Honduras derailed those plans. He recently returned to full training and playing with Orlando City B, but his return to the first team looks like it will take a little longer.

Enter Júlio Baptista, Kaká's compatriot and former Seleção regular. With former clubs like Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Roma on his résumé, he is bound to find himself lurking around Adrian Heath's team selection. Baptista brings experience as an attacking midfielder and striker in some of the best leagues and clubs from around the world. He is also an excellent free kick taker and has a physical presence that few players can match. While Bryan's movement off-ball and finishing ability have been applauded, he is still young and improving. With City already tight on international spots, they will most likely send another player down on loan to comply with MLS roster rules in order to sign Baptista; Róchez seems the likely candidate.

While Róchez has shown flashes of his potential he needs consistent minutes. As a goalscorer, confidence is just as important as experience. While he has proven that he can score in MLS, becoming a force in USL will help him regain his form and scenarios like this are one of the chief reasons Orlando City B was created. Róchez would likely have sat behind Larin anyway and Baptista is not expecting to start at his age. When the international spots begin to sort themselves out in the summer, either by green card or by transfer, then Róchez can look to jump back into the first team, hopefully with bags of goals to his name. But until then, he can focus on improving himself without added pressure. Without Baptista, Róchez is the only pure striker off the bench for the Lions. He would be stuck at the end of the bench, hoping to come on in certain circumstances and only for a half hour at the most. Now that Adrian Heath has options, Róchez has the freedom to play as much as possible with OCB.