It’s been a breakout year for Orlando City’s Richie Laryea so far in 2017. After being drafted seventh overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando, there were high hopes for the Canadian international.
Childhood friends with Cyle Larin, Laryea came into an Orlando team full of talent. Unlike Larin’s 2015 season, when the striker position was lacking in depth, Orlando was already chock full of midfielders when Laryea joined the team, putting him far down the depth chart. In order to get him some much-needed minutes, he was loaned down to Orlando City B and spent the season there.
Laryea switched from an attacking midfielder to a defensive midfielder and back a few times throughout the USL season, playing in 23 games, logging over 1,500 minutes and notching two assists. In that season, however, he was unable to find the back of the net, despite taking the second-most shots on the team.
Coming into his sophomore year as a professional, the midfielder has taken a more attacking role with the team — one that seems to suit him much more. Once again loaned down to OCB, Laryea leads the young Lions with three goals, all of which have been scored in the last three matches. He managed a brace in Bethlehem, helping OCB to its first away win of the season, and a stoppage-time goal in Cincinnati, quieting the 19,000 fans in attendance and sealing the 2-0 away win.
Not only is Laryea banging in goals, but he’s doing work defensively. He leads OCB in tackles, which has led to turnovers in the midfield and counter attacks for the Lions. He is also second on the team in duels won.
The team itself has also shown vast improvement from 2016 to this year. OCB currently sits in fifth in the USL East standings, a far cry from where the Lions were at this point in the season last year. A lot of that success can be attributed to Laryea’s production and leadership, with him being one of the few returning players from the squad last year.
With that success, he has made the MLS team bench a few times this season so far, but if he keeps the production up with OCB, it’s only a matter of time before he gets to see first-team minutes in MLS.