To say that it's been a roller coaster ride for Carlos Rivas in Orlando would be an understatement. The Colombian winger, brought in as a Young Designated Player last year, has had moments of brilliance and, more often, moments of frustration.
When he joined the Lions, he was given chances as a striker through the first few games, then moved out to the wing for the rest of the team's inaugural season. Then Head Coach Adrian Heath spoke often about how much potential he saw in Rivas and he believed in time he would have everything click. Now, almost two years after joining the club, it still hasn't fully clicked for the winger.
Back when Jason Kreis took over for the Lions, our own Logan F. Oliver wrote about Rivas' need to prove himself to his new manager in order to secure meaningful minutes with the club. Since Kreis has taken over, however, Rivas has seen the pitch for a total of 12 minutes in a losing effort against Seattle. Those 12 minutes through a month of play doesn't constitute much faith that Kreis has in the young winger.
One could argue that there were certain games throughout the month that didn't require an offensive substitution and that the Lions were in a situation of holding onto a lead, which doesn't require a player like Rivas. While that is understandable, the fact is that Rivas should be at a point in his development with Orlando where he should be playing on a more consistent basis.
Just last week, Kreis spoke after Orlando's win over New York City FC about his thought's on Designated Players.
"I feel very strongly about this point: in MLS, you need your Designated Players to perform," Kreis said. "In order for the team to do well, you need those players to do well. It doesn't have anything to do with how much money they make, it is more about their designation and the slot they are taking in the roster. You are allowed so few special players, so to speak, Designated Players, you really cannot afford to get those decisions wrong so those players need to perform."
In this instance, Kreis was speaking of Kaká, but the point remains the same. With Rivas taking one of those three precious DP spots up and not getting playing time, he's become more of a handicap for the roster. That's also not even mentioning his issue with his U.S. visa, which kept him from traveling to Canada to play Vancouver, although that issue has apparently been fixed.
The question now becomes what will happen with Rivas? There are still eight games remaining in the season to try and make a mark on this season, if he even gets the chance.
In the Orlando Sentinel story linked above, Kreis seemed to be open to giving Rivas that chance.
"Really, really pleased with what he brings to the table," Kreis said of Rivas. "He was a player who, from the very first match against Stoke, I thought he did a nice job. Probably if Cyle Larin is not in his position, he probably already [would have] gotten a few opportunities. So, first and foremost, I think he's a guy we'd be looking to get an opportunity, and I think he's in the right place and frame of mind for that right now."
Once the season is over, there's a good chance that Rivas will no longer be with Orlando City, but until the final game is played, the question will continue to linger. Making the most of any opportunity that Kreis gives him will be of the utmost importance to the young Colombian.