Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino has returned to the form that saw him win the USL Pro’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014 and it couldn’t have come at a more important time for the Lions.
Molino has featured in all but 1 of Orlando City’s matches this year, bringing much needed stability to a midfield that’s had to deal with injuries to integral parts like Kaka, Darwin Ceren, and Cristian Higuita.
Ever since Kaka gave him the chance to open Pandora’s box from the penalty spot against Portland in early April, Kevin has been the Lion’s most prolific scorer, and most important attacking player.
We’re now thirteen games into the 2016 MLS season and Molino is second in the league among all midfielders with 6 goals scored.
Not only does he have a good scoring record, but it seems like he keeps popping up when the team needs him the most: of the Trinidad and Tobago international’s 6 goals this season, 5 of them have come in the second half of games, with 3 of them coming in the last 15 minutes, and 5 of them have been equalizers.
When Molino has scored this season, Orlando City hasn’t lost a game (one win and five draws).
On top of his goal scoring prowess, he’s also managed to bag 3 assists so far. One each to teammates Cyle Larin (on March 11th against Chicago), Adrian Winter (April 8th against Philadelphia), and Julio Baptista (May 29th against NYCFC).
Most Memorable Performance:
Kevin Molino’s most memorable performance so far this season was also his most recent one, a 2-2 draw against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium.
This particular match was, for 70+ minutes, one of Orlando City’s most frustrating to watch. Besides an early chance for Cyle Larin that went begging, the Lions couldn’t create much of anything.
NYCFC grabbed the lead three minutes before halftime when defender Frederic Brillant finished off an RJ Allen cross. Andrea Pirlo found fellow FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champion’s League winner, David Villa, in the 66th minute who chipped Joe Bendik for world class goal to make the score 2-0.
When Villa stepped up to take a penalty, controversially called on Seb Hines for a handball in the box, just three minutes after his first goal, I thought he would tuck it away and put the match out of reach, especially with how uninspiring we had been up until that point going forward. Instead the Spaniard slipped on the right field grass and sent his penalty into the second deck, first baseline seats of Yankee Stadium, giving the Lions some kind of lifeline, and up stepped Mr. Molino.
Just two minutes after the penalty slip, Kevin played an incisive ball to Julio Baptista in the penalty box, where the “Beast” shimmied Brillant to the ground and drove a low deflected shot into the bottom left corner of Josh Saunders goal. His first goal for the Lions made it 2-1 and with 18 minutes left, it was game on.
As the clock wore on, it appeared that maybe Orlando City had finally run out of late game magic and would succumb to their careless play early in the match, and then it happened…again.
In the fourth minute of the guaranteed three minutes of stoppage time, Carlos Rivas whipped in a powerful curling cross with his left foot. The cross brought Larin to deep to make an attempt on goal, so he squared a header back across the box and just as it appeared Baptista was about to rifle a bicycle kick into the back of the net, Kevin Molino stuck his head in and placed his shot perfectly off the underside of the crossbar to steal another point at the death for Orlando City.