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Five Takeaways From the First Half of Orlando City's 2016 Season

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You guys love Joe Bendik now, it's time for the high-priced players to contribute, and three other takeaways from the first half of Orlando City's 2016 campaign.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

You would think the sky was falling down here in Orlando just based on some of the internet comments and video posts of players arguing with fans over the past couple of days.

While it might seem that way, things are not as bad as you think, and could still end up being pretty good for Orlando City, which is halfway through its sophomore season in MLS.

The Lions currently sit below the red line in the Eastern Conference, which isn't great, but they still have three games in hand currently on East-leading New York City FC and trail by nine points with plenty of time to close that gap.

But anyway, let's get into our five takeaways from the first half of the 2016 season.

We Got the Old Kevin Molino Back

There was no telling which Kevin Molino Orlando City would see this season coming off an ACL injury suffered eight games into the 2015 campaign. Molino failed to score last season before his injury, and struggled to shake the monkey off his back early in the season before finally getting his first in MLS on a penalty kick against the Portland Timbers.

In all, Molino has racked up six goals and five assists this season, playing an important role in the Lions' offense as they continue to play without Kaká. While Orlando City is certainly better with its Brazilian captain, and so is Molino, the Trinidadian has done more than his fair share in helping to hold down the fort.

Before the season, I would have said 10 goals and five assists would have been a great season for Molino, and maybe even worthy of MLS Comeback Player of the Year. Well, he's just over halfway there with another 17 games to go this season.

O Captain! My Injured Captain!

Kaká's second season in MLS hasn't been one the Lions' captain will be looking back on as one of the best years of his career, that's for sure. The 34-year-old has only played in nine games for Orlando City this season due to several different leg injuries that seemingly hit every couple of weeks as he begins to settle back into the lineup. Three goals and five assists at this point in the season might not seem great, but, considering how little he's actually played, it shows that Kaká has, in fact, been productive when in the lineup -- the issue, of course, is just getting in the lineup.

Kaká missed the first three games of the season before making his 2016 debut with a goal and two assists against the Timbers on April 4. While he hasn't played in more than four consecutive games because of injuries, the Lions are 3-3-3 in games with Kaká, and 1-1-6 without him.

Orlando City needs a healthy captain to have any hope of making the playoffs this season.

Can We Address The Roster Needs?

The biggest difference in this year's roster compared to last year? Depth. The club is arguably deeper than it was last season, with Orlando City B, development of some players, and 2016 signings all contributing to that depth. However, injuries to a couple of starters and Adrian Winter's recent departure from the team reveal a glaring problem: this team never truly addressed it's biggest depth needs over the off-season.

The club needed to add a backup to Kaká at central attacking midfielder -- and throughout the attacking midfield -- and didn't. As it turned out, Pedro Ribeiro needed back surgery early in the season and Kaká has struggled to stay healthy. Júlio Baptista has been running as the backup attacking midfielder lately, and that's not ideal. The club needed to add at least one more player on the wings, just in case Molino couldn't return quickly or Carlos Rivas struggled to gain form. Now, Winter is gone, and there's nobody to play on the right side of the midfield except for Darwin Cerén.

So, yeah, the transfer window is open now and it would be great if Orlando City can address those needs quick.

The Healthy High-Priced Players Are Struggling To Perform

Antonio Nocerino, David Mateos, Brek Shea, Bryan Róchez, Carlos Rivas. All of those players came into the season carrying high price tags, and almost none of them have put in the production for their worth.

Shea only has one goal this season, and while he's played solid and consistent at times, no one can argue he shouldn't be giving more to the team for making close to $600,000. Nocerino...we all know how that's gone so far. Mateos hasn't played like a $400,000 defender, and the imminent signing of José Aja could mean Mateos becomes more movable and possibly out the door, but either way, he hasn't played well enough to win a spot over Tommy Redding, and is too expensive to be sitting on the bench.

Róchez could go down as one of the biggest DP busts in MLS history. He hasn't played at all for Orlando City this season, and isn't even making the 18-man lineup for OCB, and nobody has an answer for what's been going on with the once-promising young Honduran striker.

Related: Adrian Heath got fired for "poor results" and these guys are more than guilty of contributing to those poor results.

Joe Bendik Is Actually Pretty Good, Huh?

Fans didn't care much when Orlando City acquired Joe Bendik from Toronto FC for a fourth-round pick this off-season.

And sure, there was reason to understand why. Bendik was never great in Toronto -- he never played behind a good back line, and getting put under so much pressure can be difficult for a goalkeeper. But Bendik came to Orlando with his old goalkeeper coach Stewart Kerr and has blossomed into a top-tier goalkeeper for the Lions this season.

29 goals against across 17 games doesn't sound great, but Bendik has been put under a lot of pressure because of back line troubles for Orlando of late and he's made the most of it to record 60 saves as well.

Replacing Tally Hall was never going to be easy for Bendik, but the fans have come around and now he's earning some of the biggest praise a player can get.

That's serious talk, folks.

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Those are my five takeaways from the first half of the season. What are your's? Comment below!