There are players who come to training every day, put in their hard hours, and head home when the work is done. Then there are other players who stay long after what is required of them to be the best they can be – players like Pedro Ribeiro.
The 24-year-old Brazilian had been out of the lineup for almost two months after tearing his hamstring against D.C. United April 3rd. Saturday against Columbus, the striker was subbed in to do what he does best – and in spectacular fashion. His 89th minute goal, a left-footed rocket from 27 yards away, salvaged a much-needed point at home.
“He got his rewards for the hard work,” said Adrian Heath. “There’s very rarely a day I come here and he isn’t already here, and I leave and he is still here. He’s worked really hard to keep his fitness levels up.”
Ribeiro, now in his second MLS season, was acquired from the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round of last year’s MLS Expansion Draft.
“He was just somebody that, when we were going into the expansion draft, I remembered,” said Heath. “The more inquiries we made, even with the Philadelphia people, people like Amobi (Okugo), all spoke highly of him so we were delighted to get him.”
Heath’s 4-2-3-1 system demands his lone forward to constantly pressure the opposing defense. It’s a role in which only the fittest and hardest working forwards can excel, and in just five appearances, Ribeiro has shown he is right at home.
In Orlando City’s second MLS game at Houston, Ribeiro was brought on as a substitute in the 54th minute. Just 20 minutes later, Ribeiro’s hustle forced a critical mistake by Houston keeper Tyler Deric, which earned the Lions their first ever MLS win.
Just weeks later, in Montreal, he sprinted to intercept a lateral pass by the Impact backline, powered into the box, and then slid the ball to his left, assisting Kaká on the game tying goal.
Upon the walls of the Lions’ locker room and training facility at Sylvan Lake Park are painted various motivational quotes. But one in particular aptly captures Ribeiro’s commitment and work ethic; it’s by Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” Pedro hopes to continue dancing and celebrating goals for Orlando City well into the foreseeable future.