Kevin Molino became Orlando City’s first Major League Soccer signing when the club signed him to a contract for the 2015 season earlier this year.
So it only makes things look even better when you throw in the fact that 2014 was not only the best season of Molino’s career, but one of the best seasons in USL PRO history.
Molino scored his league-leading 20th goal of the season on Saturday night against the Richmond Kickers, knocking home a early header on a great service into the box by defender Luke Boden, putting Orlando up 1-0, which would end up being the final score in their last regular season game in USL PRO, closing off an historic run of greatness.
It’s seems easy to say that Molino is on his way to winning his second career USL PRO MVP award after a strong campaign this season.
The Trinidadian midfielder finished the season six goals clear of the next highest scorer — Richmond’s Matthew Delicate, who finished with 14 — and not only broke the league record for goals in a single-season — the record was 15, which was set by former Orlando City loanee Dom Dwyer last season — but destroyed it with 20, which is even more amazing since he came into the season with just six goals in his last three seasons combined.
Along with the goals came the praise from those around him.
“I think once again he’s demonstrated that he’s more than capable of moving to the next level,” Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath said after Saturday’s game. “I honestly think he’s one of the most talented footballers in America, period. Whichever division you’re talking about, and I think he’ll demonstrate that next year.”
“I think he’s going to be a star as soon as he comes to MLS,” Dwyer said back at the MLS All-Star Game this summer. “Not just because he’s a good friend of mine, but he has unbelievable talent. I wish I had feet like him. When he wants it and when he’s motivated, he’s unstoppable. I can’t wait for people to see that. … He’s going to get his chance next year and I believe he’s going to take it with two hands and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in this game next year.”
But what was it — what was the thing that had Molino go from being just an MLS-caliber player into a force to be noticed heading into the first division next season?
“We moved him more central which has helped him,” Heath told the Orlando Sentinel. “He is spending more time in and around the box. But it’s like anything, he started the season very well and his confidence has grown and now all of a sudden he’s trying things he probably wouldn’t have done in the past. More importantly, he’s finishing a high percentage of chances he’s had. We could probably put a video of 60 chances he’s had in the past three years that he hasn’t taken and [now] he’s like chipping the keeper and backheeling it. He’s got the bug now.”
When Orlando City enters MLS next season, they’ll not only be jumping into the league with Kaka, one of the best players in the world and someone that will immediately become one of the league’s top players, but another Top 10 caliber scoring-threat with Molino.