MLS is known for attracting some major talents that are past their prime, but they have also shown a knack for unearthing some incredibly talented young Central and South American talents. FC Dallas has made a habit of it, churning up guys like Fabian Castillo. But they aren’t alone.
Orlando City are proving to have quite the collection of young talent as well. Along with Canadian striker Cyle Larin, The Lions also boast such names as Rafael Ramos and Kevin Molino, both of whom are off to fantastic starts with one of MLS’s newest franchises.
But the South American talent that this article exists to glorify is the young Colombian Cristian Higuita.
Just 22 years of age, Higuita was unearthed by Orlando while playing for Deportivo Cali. Though he does not have the size or physicality that most defensive midfielders wield, he doesn’t seem to need it. You see, Higuita is a tackling fiend. No one completes more tackles in any given appearance than Higuita, who averages a massive six tackles per appearance. He throws in 2.2 interceptions as well.
Overall, he has been one of Orlando’s better performers this year. For a team that is dominated by the man, the myth, the legend, Kaka, they sure do have quite the young and supporting cast that is built to carry on long after Kaka has retired. Central to that is Higuita.
Building a team around a midfielder like the young Colombian is pretty easy to do. That central, crucial role is vital to any successful team. For someone as young as Higuita to already have a firm grasp of the position is nothing short of a blessing. While yellow card accumulation has become a habit of his, that kind of thing gets ironed out with age. And I think Orlando will trade the yellow cards for his ability to break up attacks before they reach the danger zone.
Higuita’s repertoire is expanded even more when considering his pass completion. Not only does he know how to break up plays and win the ball back, but once he gets it, he protects it. Higuita completes 85% of his passes and is only dispossessed once per match.
Watching Higuita play, his boundless athleticism stands out as a featured attraction. It’s no wonder that his smaller size has never been much of a problem because he makes up for it with work ethic and raw ability.
If you’re a fan of overstating the obvious, then you’ll be excited about the next sentence. This Orlando City midfield is incredibly talented. Even without Kaka, they have pieces in play to build success for the long haul.