Why Pedro Ribeiro could end up being the best from Orlando City’s Expansion Draft class

Sep 6, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia Union midfielder Pedro Ribeiro (30) runs with the ball against the Toronto FC at BMO Field. The Union beat FC 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

One teams prospect can be another team’s star.

That could be the case for Pedro Ribeiro and Orlando City, who selected the Brazilian midfielder in the fourth round of the Major League Soccer Expansion Draft this past week. Ribeiro is being considered the best pick of Orlando City’s draft, and could wind up being a star under Adrian Heath down here in the Sunshine State.

“When we lost Pedro, it was a tough one for us,” Union head coach Jim Curtin told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a guy I like a lot – a big, strong body that has the rare ability to have good, soft feet. But if we’re doing our job this offseason, Pedro’s a bench player for us. You want to bring him along and have the patience to do it, but I know our fan base isn’t going to have patience anymore.”

The 24-year-old from Belo Horizonte was selected 15th overall in the 2014 SuperDraft by Philadelphia. He spent most of his rookie season on-loan with Philly’s USL PRO affiliate, the Harrisburg City Islanders, where Orlando and Heath were able to see him play a couple of times, and were impressed by what they saw.

“Pedro Ribeiro couldn’t have had more of a glowing report from everybody I know that worked with him.” Heath said on Extra Time Radio the on Thursday. “We saw him first hand in the USL this year when he was on loan at Harriburg and we think he’s got a huge upside.”

Ribeiro showed a lot of potential and some creativity in his first year between the Islanders and the Union, even though he was never used in his regular position — the midfield — because he was always being used as a center-back or up top as a striker. 

In Orlando, Ribeiro projects to play in the central-midfield role that he’s much more accustom to. He probably won’t get very many minutes right away because, you know, Kaka will be playing the man playing in that No. 10 role. And not to mention, getting a chance to play behind a fellow countryman of Kaka’s resume must have him excited to hit the pitch in January.

Kaka’s contract with Orlando City runs through the next three years, which will be more than enough time for the young midfielder to grow, and eventually take over as the team’s main No. 10 down the road.

This was a good pick by Orlando, and one that might have Union fans shaking their head a few years from now.