ORLANDO, Fla.—If soccer fans ever want to see what the notoriously high-octane Loyola Marymount University basketball teams of the late 1980s would look like on the big field, they might want to keep an eye on Orlando City SC.
After selecting an attacking duo with pace-to-burn in Richie Laryea and Hadji Barry during the first round of Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft (Nos. 7 and 13, respectively), Lions head coach Adrian Heath made no secret of the fact he is ready to unleash them this season as part of a "fast-break" MLS line-up.
Orlando already boasts one of the youngest rosters in the league, with speed merchants like Brek Shea, Rafael Ramos, Carlos Rivas and Cristian Higuita; new boys Laryea, 21, and Barry, 23, will have every chance to join that mix.
- ExtraTime Radio: Trades galore! Catching up in Baltimore
“There is a lot of pace in those two boys,” Heath said, immediately after the SuperDraft. “They were in the top five or six for nearly everything at the Combine, and they both have talent. I was delighted they were there for us as they were comfortably our top two targets, even though we had to give up a little bit for Hadji. [Orlando sent D.C. United targeted allocation money and the No. 32 overall pick]
“They are both keen to make a living as professional footballers and, now, it is up to them. We are not afraid to give young players a chance and that is what we will be telling them at the start of the preseason. If they prove they are worth a roster spot, that is what we will do.”
Heath pointed to last season’s Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin – who started well down on the team’s depth chart but finished with an MLS-rookie-record 17 goals – as the perfect example for the two newcomers to emulate.
- For more Lions news, visit OrlandoCitySC.com
“We certainly didn’t know what to expect of Cyle this time last year,” Heath added. “But he got his opportunity and went on from there, and the same could happen with these two guys.
“We now have the Orlando City B team to use in player development terms, but there will be players whose futures are decided by their performance from Monday to Friday, and that’s what we will be watching for. The ball is in their court.”
Despite Orlando’s youth policy – they now have 11 players aged 23 or younger – Heath admitted they are also looking to add some veteran players: “We are actively trying to bring in two or three who have either MLS or European experience. And we’d hope to have them in place for the preseason.”