Júlio Baptista joined Orlando City and the move came with some concerns from me, evidenced by the piece I wrote in March in which I stated this move did not make Orlando City better. I stated the back line needed help and restructuring, and that it was going to be the back line that would come back to haunt us. The club has started to look to provide depth with the possible moves for Stoke City's Dionatan Teixeira and former Dundee United defender Gavin Gunning.
Baptista has come to this team and brought the veteran leadership that is needed with a team of young players. He has been influential for Orlando making the comebacks it has. Many of the combination plays that Orlando City has had late in matches were using Baptista as a target to help bridge the gap between the midfield and striker Cyle Larin. The gap can sometimes make it look like Larin is on an island up top with no support.
The other part of Baptista that I personally was surprised about was the connection between him and Kaká. All last year we saw some of the players just not making the runs or not being in the spots that Kaká wanted them to be in. Baptista has been in those right spots for Kaká, and the connection between the two was underestimated by many, including myself. Kaká has a sense of trust when he plays a ball to Baptista because he knows that he can handle the difficult pass, but also will give the ball back to him in dangerous areas.
I concluded my article in March by saying that Baptista was not making this team better and this team needed more help in the back four. I was wrong and the proof is in The Beast's play and his ability to bring senior leadership to the young team and accept his role on this team. Kaká looks more at home when his countryman is on the field and Orlando City is more dangerous. The proof is that Baptista is bringing more to the field than other off-season transfers, namely Antonio Nocerino.
I really hope we see more of Baptista in the coming months.