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Carlos Rivas is the Right Partner for Cyle Larin in Attack

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The Colombian striker is producing a goal, an assist, or a shot every 21 minutes.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season started with a little “oh no!” moment in the home opener due to the loss of Kaká against New York City FC. But things changed quickly as movement on the field helped Orlando City SC get the W at home. Carlos Rivas was pushed next to Cyle Larin in this game, and the Colombian showed some of his tricks and attributes.

During much of the NYCFC game and during the second game against the Philadelphia Union, Rivas was a nightmare to the back line of both teams. The Colombian’s movement from outside to inside created space, and he added some crosses for Canadian striker, Cyle Larin. All of this was great at home and we enjoyed the show.

But last weekend against Columbus Crew SC his display brought back some ghastly memories of his poor performances from the past. He was evaluated in our Player Grades and MoTM section, and as his low rating shows, he was lost for most of the game. He appeared to have forgotten how to play soccer, which was a surprising difference compared to what he did in the previous two matches. In the game against Columbus we saw him supply some nice crosses, but many went over the bar which didn’t help at all. Towards the end of the game he did come back to nature when he was pushed out wide and had more one-on-ones with the defenders, which is what we want to see.

But the question must be asked: is Rivas the right guy to have next to Larin? Yes. If we bring up statistics to support our answer, Carlos Rivas has either produced a goal, an assist, or a shot every 21 minutes! For an attacker, this is a great point in favor. This means that he creates a chance for the team to score four times per game. And even when this sounds like little, we have to remember he’s just one Lion among many.

Rivas has been the backup for Kaká during past seasons on the left side of a 4-2-3-1, and now is his chance to show what he is capable of doing for the team as a complementary strike partner for Larin. Head Coach Jason Kreis had some positive words about the attacker in an interview with MLS before last week’s match:

“He’s a young player who is growing as a professional. He’s really embracing now what’s being asked of him, and trying to do that.

“But I could honestly tell you, from the moment I came in, I felt he was someone willing to do anything we asked, the majority of the time. When he does what we ask, he can bring a lot of useful tools to our team. He’s done a great job of that so far this season and I’d love him to get a goal, because he deserves it.”

Under a coach that is known for building players, Carlos Rivas has a wonderful opportunity to develop into a great attacker. His ability to open the defense and find the striker will be key this season. After spending time in 2016 as the backup left wing and forward, the time is now. One thing we all hope for is for him to keep a rhythm of playing like he did in the first two games of the season.

One of the players that supports Carlos is Jose Aja. The Uruguayan said, in that same MLSSoccer.com story linked above, that Rivas will be the key for the Lions this season:

“Carlos has become a fundamental weapon for us,” he said. “We know he has been growing a lot and, if he is physically and mentally prepared and fit, we know he can be a decisive player on the field for us.”

Rivas having a tremendous year will help establish a great season for Orlando City SC. The young DP has a lot to demonstrate, but he has already showing a spark of what he is developing into and the prospect of his success is exciting.