Tommy Redding came into the 2017 season fighting for a starting spot with Jose Aja. Redding had stints with the United States U-20 Men’s National Team, and even took on a captain position at times. The Homegrown defender has an impressive touch on the ball and plays with a confidence that is rare for his age.
One of the downsides in Redding’s play is that, just like most of Orlando City’s center backs, he was prone ball watching and late reactions on a defense that sometimes had truck-sized holes in it through the season. Consistency was a problem for the young defender. When he played well, he looked great, and when he didn’t, well...it wasn’t pretty.
Redding played a factor in both the positives and negatives in the Lions’ defense. He featured in the 4-0 losses in Houston and Chicago, and played the second half in the 6-1 massacre in Philly. But the U.S. youth international was also part of two of Orlando’s five shutouts.
The defender did not score a goal or record an assist in 18 games, but as a center back that is not surprising. Redding’s 14 starts was a decrease from his 16 in 2016, however, he recorded more minutes — 1,406 compared to 1,346.
Redding’s four yellow cards were also a career high, as well as 13 fouls conceded and two shot attempts. 2017 was actually the first year that the 20-year-old took any shots at all.
His passing accuracy could have been better at just 83% on the season, but it also certainly could have been worse. His 30 tackles, 55 clearances, six blocked shots, 30 interceptions, and 17 aerial duels won were all decent, but nothing spectacular either.
Tommy had two performances that stood out above the rest. In Orlando’s early season 1-0 victory against the Red Bulls, Redding led the team in interceptions and clearances and did an exceptional job in his passing and communication with Jonathan Spector.
However, his play was even better in Orlando’s 1-1 draw against Seattle. Redding’s passing was not great at just 82% but he stood out because of his aerial duels. Typically an area that he struggles in, Redding held strong against much more powerful opposing attackers.
Additionally, Redding got a head on the end of a cross for his only shot on target in his young career. He led the team in interceptions and added two tackles, a blocked shot, and three clearances.
Final 2017 Grade
Redding’s 2017 was given a final grade of 5.5 from The Mane Land staff. His season was average, and while he played poorly at times, as you might expect from a young player in such a vital position, he also had a couple of really good games. There are areas that he certainly needs to work on — aerial duels being one key area — but he filled in well when needed and continues to grow and improve.
At just 20 years old Redding has much room to continue to grow. In 2018, look for Redding to compete for a starting spot at center back. His personal goal should be to break into the USMNT after featuring in the U-20 World Cup, and so he will need to work harder than ever during this off-season and throughout 2018 to have a chance. The amount of playing time that the Homegrown will get all depends on who Orlando City brings in, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him to play in around 20 games again.