“It’s difficult,” said United States under-20 and former Orlando City B center back Tommy Redding after replacing Jose Aja last weekend in OCSC’s first loss of the season to Columbus Crew SC.
The 20-year-old center back came on for Aja just before halftime in the 2-0 defeat after the starting center back picked up a grade 1 hamstring strain, which will require between two weeks and month to heal.
Redding will quickly have to make the jump from Orlando City B level to the first team, and adapt to having a bigger role with the first teamers.
“The big thing for me is to just get in with these guys and be a part of the back four just like Jose is,” Redding said, per the Orlando Sentinel. “I mean, it’s hard to have to substitute into a back line that you haven’t played much with, and since I wasn’t here during preseason, I haven’t had much time with these guys. But, my biggest focus is to just try to be in unison with all the guys around me.”
This isn’t Redding’s first time with the Orlando City first team, after playing the first half of last season with the Lions as well as having a huge impact on the United States under-20 team, helping the U.S. win its first CONCACAF championship last month.
“Throughout this week it’s going to get much stronger and you’ll see how it looks on Sunday,” Redding said when asked about the difficulty in being subbed into a back line that has played together for some time now.
The young center back has played four seasons now professionally and continues to grow as a player, citing that amount of time playing and his amount of growth as a huge factor that will help him this time around on the first team.
“I’m trying to do my best every day to become the best I think I can be. And with that, I’m still working on a lot of things I have problems with, and communication is still a big thing for me. So, if [a senior team call-up] comes within the next six months, 12 months, 18 months, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m just trying to get there at some point.”
Manager Jason Kreis has put his faith in Redding, but tries to not put a lot of pressure on the young player, hoping to not put too much pressure on him too early in his career. However, Redding appreciates the pressure, saying, “A lot of people don’t want to put pressure on me, but I actually love pressure. It helps me, a lot. So, I’m really looking forward to showing him what I’ve got.”
With Aja out for at least half a month, look for Redding to play a large part in the Lions’ defense, and with some good game time with the senior squad, continue to develop into a potentially great center back for the United States and Orlando in the near future.