Orlando City Soccer Club is one of the most internationally diverse teams in Major League Soccer. The Lions currently have 18 players from 12 different countries on three different continents. During the pre-season, 11 of the 18 foreign players signed had never played in MLS including the highly touted prodigy from Honduras, Bryan Ròchez.
The 20-year-old striker signed with Orlando City as a Designated Player in December. There were many unknowns about Ròchez, but one thing was readily apparent — the striker possessed a tremendous amount of talent.
During two and a half seasons with Real España in the Honduran Liga Nacional, Ròchez scored 30 goals, with 20 coming during the 2013-2014 season when Ròchez finished second in the Golden Boot standings and scored twice in the 1st leg of the Apertura final, ultimately securing Real España’s championship.
As he began his MLS journey, constant travel and training – plus his inclusion in the Honduras U-20 National Team during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand – took a toll on the young star.
“The difference would be the physical side,” admitted Ròchez. “I haven’t been fit but I am improving in that aspect and I am now at the same level as my teammates.”
His fitness level is no longer a concern. Ròchez has scored twice in the past two games to help Orlando secure six points. Even though his fitness and form are at a season high, Ròchez is confident there is plenty more to come.
“I know what I am capable of doing and what I can give to the team and what I still need to give. I need to keep working daily with humility and with the confidence that my teammates and the coaches give me.”
One player who has been thoroughly impressed with Ròchez’s abilities on the field is Lions’ left back, Luke Boden. “He holds the ball up great. His strength is with his back to goal and I feel he does that well,” explained Boden. “He has brought a different dimension to the team.”
“I think he has great potential,” continued Boden. “That is why the club brought him in. The club saw something great for the future.”
For now, Ròchez is working hard to continue the growth of his game. Since his arrival, he has relied heavily on his Hispanic teammates to help ease the difficult transition and language barriers. “The Hispanic players have helped me a lot. Aurélien Collin, Darwin Cerén, Carlos Rivas, Pedro Ribeiro, the Hispanics have really been important to me to feel comfortable and that has helped my family and me,” said Róchez. “I am very grateful for knowing that I have loving people besides me.”
According to Ròchez, he, Cerén, Rivas, and Cristian Higuita have been especially close. “We are the fantastic four I would say, that is what I call us.”
Ròchez continues to work hard for the Lions as he progresses toward his peak potential. He will have his next opportunity to take the pitch this Friday against the New York Red Bulls.