Orlando City SC Going into Beast Mode

Oct 3, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; A view of the Orlando City FC banner prior to an MLS Soccer match between the Orlando City FC and the Montreal Impact at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; A view of the Orlando City FC banner prior to an MLS Soccer match between the Orlando City FC and the Montreal Impact at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Orlando City SC continued building their roster this week adding former Brazilian international and Real Madrid forward Julio Baptista. The move adds another element to the Lions attack and could have a significant impact on their budding star.

Known as the “Beast”, Baptista has a resume that includes significant time with some of Europe’s finest clubs. Sevilla, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Roma are among the clubs Baptista has applied his trade for over the years. At 34 years old, he is not the same player who was so highly touted when he joined the likes of Zidane and Beckham in Madrid. What he still brings is a mix of physical and technical abilities along with extensive experience that should serve Orlando City well once he acclimates to his role.

Baptista came through the Sao Paulo academy with current Lion Kaka. They were also teammates for Brazil on the international level. The familiarity with Kaka should help speed up his integration with the team on the pitch. Having Baptista gives Orlando City more flexibility and another high powered weapon in its attack. More importantly though, it may give the Lions a perfect mentor for rising star Cyle Larin.

Cyle Larin made good on his number one overall pick status in his debut season garnering MLS rookie of the year. His seventeen goals proved he could perform at this level and showed flashes of the tremendous potential he holds. Baptista may be vital in helping Larin continue to progress.

Larin is a strong physical specimen who can hold off defenders and use his frame to gain position.  Once in position, he has shown excellent finishing abilities with both feet and in the air. While he has shown many skills in the attack, he still needs a good deal of refining to round off his game.

Despite 17 goals in his rookie season, Larin only registered one assist. With his ability to hold up the ball and shield from defenders, he should be able to help create more opportunities for his mates by improving his passing ability and awareness.

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Where Baptista can help Larin is from both the technical and the experience standpoint. Julio Baptista has a similar build to Larin and has learned how to use his physical advantage throughout his career. Passing on some of his many lessons learned to the young Canadian can help Larin continue to grow his game.

The presence of Baptista can also help open space and options for Larin. If defenses focus too much on Cyle, Baptista is adept at finding space for an outlet where he can finish or create opportunities. With Baptista on the pitch, defenses can be opened up by his technical ability which could in return create space for Larin. Baptista is a very good provider when it comes to setting up his teammates, which should create more opportunities for Larin to demonstrate his finishing abilities.

Overall, this is a very good signing for Orlando City. Julio Baptista brings a ton of experience and technical ability to the pitch. He possesses the necessary traits to make the Lions a better team and to also help their young star cash in on his potential. This is a move that should concern the rest of the Eastern Conference. Orlando City SC is building a true contender, MLS beware.

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