Since Orlando City was established and the Lions broke into MLS there have really never been questions asked about the passion displayed by the players and supporters each match. Questions have, however, been asked about the overall quality of the side. Despite being in MLS since 2015 the Lions have yet to qualify for the playoffs since joining the top flight in the American soccer pyramid.
However, it looks as though the arrival of Head Coach Oscar Pareja and the team he has at his disposal may be what the club needs to break through. Orlando City currently sits fourth in the Eastern Conference and looks to have a genuine chance of making its first ever playoff berth.
Along with a great coach in Pareja, the team is also grounded in spectacular diversity too. Tidy players with silky skills such as Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, and Junior Urso contribute to the more flamboyant side of the team. To complement said bold players come industrial ones as well, ones that personify what Orlando City is all about — passion and tenacity. I would personally argue that no player on the roster at the moment is better described by the terms “passionate” or “tenacious” than Sebas Mendez.
The 23-year-old Ecuadorian is an absolute workhorse on the pitch and makes himself a nuisance to opposition on both attack and defense. The midfielder seems to always make his presence known. No one ever forgets that he is on the pitch seeing as he is involved in practically everything that happens throughout any given match. The way Mendez tenaciously buzzes around the midfield like a bull in a china shop makes him such a pleasure to watch.
Against Inter Miami on Saturday, Mendez portrayed his machine-like manner in the middle of the park exquisitely, helping see his side on to win against its Floridian rivals. On the attacking side of the ball, the Ecuadorian finished first with a team-high 49 out of 54 passes finding their target. On the defensive side, he held things down in the midfield with four completed tackles, second-most on the team behind right back Ruan.
The aforementioned stats are indicative of how impressive the work rate of Mendez truly is. For every skillful, luxury player there has to be one like Mendez too. The 23-year-old seems to relish being the busy body of the midfield and is perfectly suited to the role given his physical attributes and desire to attack and defend.
Going into the future, it would not surprise me in the slightest to see a midfield where Mendez is a more present figure. With older and more experienced players like Uri Rosell, Urso. and Pereyra on the team teaching Mendez the trade of the midfield and his heart of a lion, the sky is the limit for the Orlando City midfielder. Mendez is already the grit and tenacity of Orlando City personified, one day he could be the talisman at the club too and he certainly seems to have the determination to do so.