Substitutes can make a significant impact in a game. Fresh legs and tactical changes often mean the difference between three points or none. How did Orlando City fare with goals and assists from players coming off the bench?
March 6, 2016 - vs. Real Salt Lake
I’m certain we all remember the epic two goals in stoppage time that highlighted the season opener for 2016. What you might not remember is that substitutes contributed to both of those goals. Adrian Winter came on in the 61st minute and Hadji Barry came on in the 77th minute. Barry would be the first to make an impact with his assist on Cyle Larin’s 90+4 minute goal. Shortly after, Adrian Winter would score a goal to complete the unlikely comeback. Match result: Orlando City 2, RSL 2.
April 17, 2016 - vs. New England Revolution
As it was too many times in 2016, Orlando City needed last minute heroics to salvage a point. This time it was Kevin Molino who came in during the 61st minute. Then, in the 90+2 minute, he scored a goal to draw Orlando City even with the Revolution. Match result: Orlando City 2, New England 2.
April 30, 2016 - at New England Revolution
Only two weeks after Kevin Molino brought the Lions back against the Revolution, Orlando City would need help off the bench again to reel in New England. This time it would be Carlos Rivas coming on in the 81st minute. Once again, it would be a stoppage time goal as Rivas scored in the 90th minute. Match result: Orlando City 2, New England 2. Again.
May 21, 2016 - vs. Montreal Impact
This match was the first in which a substitution would result in a win. Julio Baptista came in at the 75th minute, and in the 87th minute he would provide an assist to Cyle Larin’s goal. It turned out to be a game winner over the Impact. This wasn’t the last time that “the Beast” would have an impact off of the bench. Match result: Orlando City 2, Montreal 1.
May 25, 2016 - vs. Philadelphia Union
A mere four days later, Orlando City would need help from the bench again. This time it would be Kevin Molino who would provide that spark for the Lions. Entering the game in the 67th minute, he’d make good with a goal in the 68th minute. However, it was only good enough to secure one point. Match result: Orlando City 2, Philadelphia 2.
July 31, 2016 - vs. New England Revolution
For a third time in the season, Orlando City would get help off the bench against their Eastern Conference foe, New England. Making his only appearance on this list, Brek Shea was a halftime substitution. In the 64th minute he would provide the assist to Kevin Molino for a 64th minute goal. Though Molino would go on to score again, it was this first goal that put the Lions ahead for good. Match result: Orlando City 3, New England 1.
Sept. 24, 2016 - at D.C. United
This time no amount of heroics would save the day. The Lions would lose this match, despite Julio Baptista coming on in the 64th minute, and scoring in the 72nd minute on a glorious free kick. Match result: Orlando City 1, DC United 4.
Oct. 16, 2016 - at Philadelphia Union
Baptista would again come on to secure the victory for Orlando City. Entering in the 72nd minute he would score Orlando City’s second goal deep into stoppage time in the 90+5 minute over the Philadelphia Union. Match result: Orlando City 2, Philadelphia 0.
Oct. 23, 2016 - vs. D.C. United
In the final match of the season, Julio Baptista would for the fourth time score off the bench. Coming in at the 75th minute, he would score Orlando City’s fourth goal of the game in the 89th minute, to send the Lions off into the post season with a victory. Match result: Orlando City 4, DC United 2.
Looking back, Baptista was the most productive player off the bench. However, we know that Orlando City decided against bringing him back. Winter had already left much earlier in the season. This leaves Molino, Barry, Shea, and Rivas, as the only goal or assist contributors off the bench from 2016 returning for 2017. Orlando City went 4-1-4 when getting help from the substitutes. It will be interesting to see how the roster changes affect that productivity in 2017. Tell us who we’ll miss or who will step up in the comment section below.