The strike force duo of Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas was a long time coming, but still a working progress.
The pair have been making an impact so far this season, but despite two games into the season, the partnership between the forwards has yet to hit its true stride.
“We will get used to playing together up front. It’s just a matter of time and learning to understand each other a lot more,” said Rivas on playing with Larin after Saturday’s game. “I feel really good with him by my side. Sometimes he goes to receive the ball and I’m beside him and vice versa which works well.”
The Colombian winger assisted Larin with the opening goal last Saturday, and played a part in the second goal after a backheel pass to teammate Matias Perez Garcia resulted into Larin squeezing past the Philadelphia backline for the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute.
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Rivas’ performance last Saturday received praise from Larin, who said their chemistry in the final third is beginning to show and has helped him score three goals in two games this season.
“He opens up the space,” said Larin on Rivas. “He is very strong and quick and good with the ball. He attacks the defenders. When he goes down the line to cross the ball, I make sure I am in the box.”
It may seem fair to say Rivas is the person pulling the strings. The former Deportivo Cali player is on two assists this season for the Lions. Rivas recorded his first assist, though counted as secondary-assist, in the season-opening game against New York City FC on March 5 after passing the ball to Giles Barnes, who then crossed the ball for Larin to head it past Sean Johnson.
Rivas again showed up last Saturday after his backheel flick found MPG to produce a through-pass to Larin for the go-ahead goal. He was not credited, however, with a secondary assist.
Despite not recording a goal yet this season for Orlando City, Jason Kreis believes there’s more of an impact Rivas could provide on the field, especially in the final third.
“It’s really pleasing to see Cyle get a couple goals,” said Kreis. “His partner up there, he deserves a couple as well. I wouldn’t want to make any comments about the forwards without saying how important Carlos Rivas was to the performance tonight as well.”
While it’s been proven Larin could score, the partnership focus is mainly on Rivas, according to Kreis. The Orlando City bossman said he saw glimpses of what Rivas could do going forward, but also said the Colombian showed “willingness” to work as a partner to Larin.
“I think it’s something that really came about in the preseason and mostly due to Carlos’ willingness to work extremely hard and give us something different with his running in behind defenders,” said Kreis. “Because he’s done that, and he did it at the end of last season as well, he’s really earned us thinking that we want to play that way.”
Whether the partnership is working, that’s up for debate amongst fans. For Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik, the pair of forwards are constantly working to perfect a finished product.
“They are putting [the work in] in training,” said Bendik. “That’s really where it’s coming from, but I think everybody is around them to really push them to learn how to strike partners. Which one brings what to the table.”
(Photo courtesy of Orlando City)
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