Kevin Molino, Orlando City

Orlando City: Kevin Molino frontrunner for MLS breakout player

Keeping up with Kaka is a feat. It’s something no one is expected to do. When Orlando City signed the Brazilian wizard, they expected him to be the centerpiece, and, so long as he is healthy, he has lived up to that mantra. But suddenly, he may have a competitor that is having just as big of an impact. That competitor is Trinidadian midfielder Kevin Molino, who is taking this year by storm.

Molino has been with Orlando City since 2011, during the Lions’ USL days. In 87 career appearances for the USL Lions, he notched 27 goals, establishing himself as someone that the future expansion team could look forward to.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that USL success has carried right on into MLS, where Molino is having himself quite the time. After missing the gross majority of 2015 with a torn hamstring, Molino has returned to action in 2016 and established himself as the breakout player of the year.

Molino completes the trifecta that Orlando has established between himself, Kaka and Canadian youngster Cyle Larin.

He accounts for nine of Orlando’s 23 goals, having scored six goals and added three assists on the year. It’s a nice, popping production rate with an added benefit – consistency. Molino has never gone more than a game without contributing to a goal. Through Orlando’s 12 games, even in Molino’s rare substitute appearance, he has contributed either a goal or an assist in eight games.

At just 25 years of age, Molino is building a foundation of consistency that Orlando can bank on for years to come. That consistency is accentuated by his versatility. Molino has played five different positions this year, scoring or assisting in four of those. Translation: No matter what formation Adrian Heath runs with and no matter where he sticks Molino, the results are almost guaranteed.

Orlando has the second most goals scored in the East, despite sitting at seventh in the standings. However, there are only three points of separation between second and eighth place. They have scratched and clawed towards the top of the conference, but never found enough defensive consistency to stay put.

Offense has never been the problem. As mentioned, that trifecta of Larin, Kaka and Molino is so incredibly reliable, as they have scored over half of Orlando’s goals and assisted on the rest.

Orlando has a great foundation to build off, all they need to do is keep growing with the leadership of Kaka and the youthful exuberance of Larin and Molino. Keep that up, and they will always be in contention.

About Josh Sippie

Josh has been published on CBS, FourFourTwo and more, as well as serving as the editor of Stateside of Soccer and Pain in the Arsenal. Nothing is more important than growing the greatest sport in the world in the greatest nation in the world.