It was nearly ten months ago that Orlando City’s star midfielder Kevin Molino suffered from a torn ACL in an international friendly against Brazilian club Ponte Preta that left him injured for the rest of the 2015 season. Now, with the start of the 2016 season quickly approaching, Molino is back and working hard on the pitch.
“I just feel like I’m flying,” Molino said after Sunday’s 2-1 preseason win over Toronto FC. “It felt great. It’s always feels good to be back on the pitch.”
Molino’s teammates have also noticed his energy and enthusiasm. “He’s running off pure excitement,” Defender Brek Shea said after the game. “He’s ecstatic to be out there. It’s great to have him back.”
Kevin Molino came in for Richie Laryea at the beginning of the second half in the game against Toronto FC, and had an immediate impact on the game’s outcome. He provided the assist that led Kaká to score his first goal in the 47th minute of the match. In the 63rd minute, Molino was brought down inside the box, giving Kaká the penalty kick that would lead to his second goal.
“You can just see the difference he makes for us,” Coach Adrian Heath said. “He just gives us such composure and quality in the final third. To get him back… will be huge for everybody.”
“He’s a great player. As soon as he comes into the game he changes the game,” Shea said. “I wouldn’t want to play against him.”
Molino is slowly getting more playing time as the preseason continues. He played twenty minutes in last week's friendly against the New York Red Bulls and forty-five minutes in the game against Toronto FC on Sunday. Coach still hasn’t said whether or not Molino will be ready to go for the opening game against Real Salt Lake, but it is clear that he is already having an impact on this 2016 squad. “Kevin coming back is like a new player for us,” Coach Heath said. “We’re just hoping he stays healthy now.”
As for Molino, he’s just happy to be back on the pitch. “It’s a beautiful game, it’s something you want to enjoy,” Molino said. “I always try my best to enjoy the game.”