Servando Carrasco arrived in Orlando City midway through last season, just before the end of the summer trade deadline. His arrival to Orlando City brought some stability to his MLS career, after moving around to a couple of different teams and trying to find a system that worked for him. At Orlando City, it would appear that he has found a perfect fit.
Last season, Carrasco started in 10 of Orlando City’s last 14 games, and earned 12 total appearances. This season, Carrasco has worked his way into a fairly consistent starting role, appearing in 21 of Orlando City’s 23 games. But what changed for the defensive midfielder? Carrasco says it’s just about hard work.
“Just trying to train hard, just trying to be ready for that start,” Carrasco said after training on Thursday. “I think with every game I get more confident, I get more comfortable. It’s not so much on the technical side… it’s also the tactical side. It’s knowing where to be, knowing what the coach wants from you.”
Head Coach Jason Kreis says that Carrasco definitely knows what his coach wants from him. “He’s an important player for us right now,” Kreis said. “I think he’s really, really bought into what we’re trying to do here.”
Improving strength on the defensive side of the ball has been a big focus of Kreis since he arrived at Orlando City. He wants the entire team to be a part of the defense, to win battles in the midfield, and to keep moving the ball forward, so that the pressure isn’t entirely on the back four. Carrasco understands this philosophy and is working his hardest to implement it on the pitch.
But Carrasco is not only an important player on the field-- he is also an important player off the field. Carrasco was born in Mexico, but moved to the United States when he was seven. He speaks both Spanish and English, and often provides that connection necessary for a team that has players from all over North and South America.
“He’s been an important player on the field, he’s been an important player off the field because he speaks Spanish and English,” Kreis said. “I really look at him as the connector of the group right now, both on and off the field.”
Without a doubt, Carrasco has taken on a role as a leader this season. Whether it’s implementing the style of play necessary to carry the team to the playoffs, or connecting with players off the field to make sure they understand what the coaches and staff are trying to communicate, Carrasco has found a rhythm with Orlando City. But he knows that there is always more to learn, always more ways to grow. That growth is something that Kreis is hoping to develop both on and off the field.
“I think with every game it’s gotten a little bit better,” Carrasco said. “But there’s definitely still some room to grow.”