SAN DIEGO – The 18 year old from San Diego, California had no family watching his debut in the MLS with Orlando City. There were rumors that Tommy Redding would be loaned from Wilmington Hammerheads to Orlando City for Saturday’s match against Philadelphia Union.
Seb Hines, the regular starter for the Lions, recently had knee surgery forcing his back up Conor Donovan into the lineup. Redding was needed to give more depth to the roster.
The center back wasn’t expected to play, as his family wasn’t even there to watch. But with 11 minutes, Conor Donovan suffered a knee injury and had to be subbed out. Redding was sent onto the field 2 minutes later for his first MLS game ever.
[quote_box_center]“Obviously it was a very unfortunate circumstance that occurred [with Donovan’s injury;] it’s not the way I wanted to come in,” Redding said. “But just to be able to make my MLS debut at home in front of the fans I used to play [in front of] last year, it was a great feeling. It was a very good night for me.”[/quote_box_center]
Despite the circumstances of his debut, Redding put out an incredible performance in the center back line, helping his team keep a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw. Even though Redding said he was nervous for the first couple of minutes, he did not show that, as he was very solid defensively and always in a good position. He attempted 31 passes and completed all 31 of them, with 100% completion rate.
With 71 minutes on the clock, Redding was crucial in the game helping to avoid a likely goal from Philadelphia striker C.J. Sapong, nodding the ball away with a header.
Redding’s performance was praised by everyone in the team, including head coach Adrian Heath.
[quote_box_center]“I thought he had a huge game,” Orlando City goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “At one point he had a header that was probably the play of the game. The absolute greatest save was him and he did it a couple times. He came in and looked like he’s been doing it all year. I don’t think he lost the ball — calm and composed. It’s a difficult game to be thrust into for 80 minutes. You can’t overstate how hard it is, and he came in, and I think did phenomenal.”[/quote_box_center]
According to Orlando’s head coach, it seems like Donovan’s knee injury is serious and will probably keep him out for the remainder of the season. In this case, Redding will most likely be the starter for the next matches.
The new signing of Spanish international David Mateo, who is arriving in Orlando next Saturday, will create some competition for Donovan’s position, as he is also a center back. Redding, however, said his performance on Saturday’s game gave him more motivation to keep getting more playing time during the next 10 games.
[quote_box_center]“For me, I just want to keep pushing myself forward,” Redding said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m here or in Wilmington, I just want to play games and keep progressing in my career. … Tonight was a great night. I’m just looking forward to more nights like this in the future.”[/quote_box_center]