Orlando City didn’t make any moves at the primary window deadline on May 12th, but they’ll soon be getting a fresh face in the lineup. Striker Martin Paterson will be available to make his MLS debut on Sunday when City takes on the LA Galaxy at the Citrus Bowl.
The Lions have been troubled by injury in the early goings of the season. For such a young team, getting back a player like Paterson, or “Pato”, as he’s known around the training grounds, could be a huge boost, considering their offensive struggles.
When asked what he brings to the team, Heath quickly responded, “Experience, pace, desire.”
Experience is one thing this team is in dire need of. MLS veteran Amobi Okugo was unavailable for Wednesday’s game in DC, and Aurelien Collin’s late second half injury left a team of youngsters out there to hold off the League’s top squad. Harrison Heath made his MLS debut in place of Okugo, and Collin was replaced with a player 10 years his younger in Tyler Turner.
Striker Cyle Larin scored in the 11th minute when he found the ball at his feet in a scramble outside the penalty area and let it rip. He was subbed off in the 77th minute for Honduran striker Bryan Róchez. That won’t be an option this weekend though; Róchez is away on international duty for the U-20 World Cup.
“I’ve got a lot to thank this soccer club for. In this moment, I consider myself in their debt, so I’ll certainly be giving everything to perform and giving the best Martin Paterson that I can,” said Pato.
But it’s possible that his feeling of indebtedness is creating issues for the 28-year-old.
“The problem at this moment in time is calming him down a little bit because he wants to get started so badly,” said Heath of his forward on Friday.
It’s something he’s talked about with Paterson, and perhaps The Gaffer’s guidance has showed Paterson how to harness his energy.
“I think you don’t control it; I think you’ve got to let it go, within the confines of the game. You’ve got to let it go, and hopefully the younger players – or older players – it’ll rub off on them because when you’re part of football… and you can’t do it and you get the chance, it means everything.”
It would mean everything to Paterson to get the opportunity to help his team, and it would mean everything for his team, too. The Lions, despite managing just a point in their last 4 outings, remain just 1 spot out of the final Eastern Conference playoff picture.
While Paterson will be match ready this Sunday against the Galaxy, Heath said it’s probably too soon for him to play a full 90.
“But hey, I think he’ll get involved at some stage of the weekend.”