After losing Cyle Larin to a red card barely 30 minutes into Saturday’s game against the Red Bulls, Orlando City found itself without one of its top offensive weapons. But as they do on a team, when one player goes down, another has to step up. Enter Carlos Rivas.
Well, he didn’t enter the game – Rivas made his third consecutive start – but he did step up and play arguably the best MLS game of his young career. Rivas fired seven shots on the evening, forcing Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles into some stellar saves.
In the 26th minute, Rivas lined up to take a free kick from 30 yards out. He lined up for an almost identical attempt against West Brom and curled a beautiful strike into the top corner. With only one thing on his mind, Rivas drilled a shot between the wall and the crowd of players, but Robles just got a hand on it to deflect it away for a corner.
Rivas was a force all night, as the Lions held half of the possession in the match despite their man-disadvantage. City peppered the Red Bulls throughout the game, and Rivas was a huge reason why. New York struggled to contain his speed and limit his space, even yards outside the box.
Rivas may not yet have ticked the scoreboard in MLS play, but he has certainly put the league on notice.
When asked if it was Rivas’ best MLS game, head coach Adrian Heath spoke highly of his 21-year-old designated player. “He’s getting better. He’s getting better by the week,” he said. “It’s what we expected. [He’s] got a lot of tools, pace, great striker of the ball, and he’s only getting better.”
“Each time I get more confident,” said Rivas in Spanish. “More games, now I’m a lot more loose. My teammates give me a lot of confidence.”
Rivas refused to say if this was his best game, though. “No, each day I learn more things. Each day I get better. I hope to keep doing that and play some great games.”
His coach agrees. “The best is yet to come for Carlos Rivas.”