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Three Orlando City Players Who Could Break Out in 2017

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Looking ahead to 2017, who are some of the Lions who could have a breakout MLS season?

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As we say goodbye to 2016, let us look forward to next season, and speculate on which young players might break out for Orlando City. Orlando City is going through plenty of changes, and has had more than its share of young players, but which three do we think might truly make a step forward in 2017. Let’s take a look.

Carlos Rivas

What We’ve Seen So Far:

If it seems like we’re doing this again, it’s because our own Gavin Ewbank mentioned Carlos about a year ago. For two years, Rivas has been the Designated Player that has shown flashes of what could be, but has ultimately frustrated Orlando City fans with inconsistent play. As our Allen Etzler wrote in our season review of Rivas, he did take a step forward this year in production with three goals, but we’re hoping for more this coming season.

Why Carlos Can Break Out:

Not that it hasn’t been said before, but the kid has the potential. We’ve seen it in his showing against Montreal in September, where he had a goal and two assists. Almost as importantly, Head Coach Jason Kreis must see something in Rivas, as he is still on the squad, taking up an important DP spot. Kreis has said that what happens in practice affects who plays in a game. Rivas proved enough to stay with Orlando City, and now has the opportunity to prove he should be on the field. He still has the speed, and if he can improve his productivity at a similar rate from 2016 to 2017 — and he did from 2015 to 2016 — he might just finally earn that designation.

Tommy Redding

What We’ve Seen So Far:

Tommy is Orlando City’s first Homegrown Player, and as such, has a special place in the hearts of the Orlando City faithful. Fortunately, as our own Gavin Ewbank wrote (again), he has impressed his new coach as well. Kreis has said that Redding needs to be more vocal on the back line. This might be a communication thing, but if he improves on that Tommy could become a leader on defense.

Why Tommy Can Break Out:

The defense has been the focus of the off-season for Orlando City. Given that Kreis has expressed his desire for Tommy to be a more vocal part of the defense, it’s clear Redding will see plenty of playing time despite recent additions. In his first season, Redding wasn’t used much, and we had to wait until last season to see what he could do. He didn’t disappoint, but it does mean he’s a year behind schedule, and as such, we can expect this coming season to be the year he puts it all together — especially now that he will have help along the back line and a proven Joe Bendik in goal.

Cristian Higuita

What We’ve Seen So Far:

In 2015, Higuita was one of Orlando City’s stars. However, in 2016 his playing time dropped by 700 minutes. As our own Gavin Ewbank (seriously...again?) wrote in our year end review, his biggest problem was his discipline. He led the team with 42 fouls, nine yellow cards, and one red card. At this point in his career, one would hope that he would have figured out how to keep those emotions in check.

Why Cristian Can Break Out:

It’s all going to come down to how he fits into the diamond midfield that Kreis will be implementing, and if he’s matured enough to keep his temper down. Higuita has the defensive skills to contribute to the team, as he had a team-high 3.7 tackles per game, and if he can be smarter about it, that will allow him to be a force in the midfield. He’ll have a breakout season, because he’ll find his form, but under Kreis’ tutelage, he can hopefully funnel his emotions into better play on the field. Orlando City fans know about Higuita, but if he can put it all together in 2017, the entire league will know who he is.

Well, there you have it Mane Landers. These are the younger players we think might have a breakout season in 2017. Let us know in the comments what you think.