This Could be the Year for Benji Michel

Feb 27, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA;Orlando City SC  forward Benji Michel (19) celebrates as he
Feb 27, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA;Orlando City SC forward Benji Michel (19) celebrates as he / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando's best Homegrown signing to date Benji Michel has been on the cusp of a breakout for the last two seasons. The winger scored nine goals across 2020 and 2021 and represented the United States during Olympic qualifying in 2021, but he's yet to fully become a high-level MLS player.

In Sunday's season opener, Michel got his 2022 season off to a fantastic start, scoring a goal in the second half. He also completed a pair of dribbles. He wasn't the best player on the field for Orlando, but he made his impact felt on found his way onto the scoresheet, a perfect way to start a make or break campaign with his hometown club.

This is the last year of Michel's contract in Orlando. After three straight decent seasons, now is the time for him to earn a serious extension. To add to that pressure, Orlando signed Silvester van der Water last season and Argentine wonder kid Gastón González is coming later this season. Both players will fight with Michel for playing time on the right wing.

If Michel wants to stay in Orlando, he has to continue to earn his spot on the field and continue to improve. His touch and technical ability is still a work in progress, but it does seem to have improved since his first professional season.

Right now, Michel is a key squad player for the Lions. He adds pace, verticality and auxiliary goal scoring that they need opposite of Facundo Torres on the wing. Michel can get into the box while the likes of Ruan, Torres and Joao Moutinho will provide the width. For now, Michel is the only player who can really fill this role for Orlando City. But Gastón González can also fill that role. These next two months will go a long way in deciding what type of season 2022 will be for Benji Michel, and after Sunday's fast start, it may be one to remember for the homegrown forward.