Sporting Kansas City drafted Tony Rocha in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, but the midfielder was cut prior to the season. Later that year, OCB signed Rocha , and the Texas native made the most of his opportunity and earned an MLS contract in 2016. In the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Rocha made just 11 appearances, two of which were starts, and provided one assist. This season was a different story.
In 2018, the 25-year-old played left back, center back, defensive midfielder, left midfield, and attacking midfielder. He was a little shaky in his first start — at which he played center back — but quickly improved and was routinely a solid choice for his coaches.
Rocha’s game time drastically increased from last season. He made 12 appearances, including nine starts, in 2018 — he played in a total of 11 games in 2016 and 2017 combined. Rocha also managed to provide three times as many assists in 2018 as the rest of his MLS career combined (3) but he has yet to find the back of the net.
The former OCB standout ranked fourth on Orlando City with an 88.7% passing accuracy and had the second most tackles per game (2.4) and key passes per game (1.2). He finished with seven shots, just two on target, 12 fouls committed, was fouled 20 times, made 18 clearances, 17 blocks, 11 interceptions, and 29 tackles.
Rocha’s best game was one not one to remember for the rest of the team — the 3-0 loss to the Montreal Impact back in June. His 97 touches were the second most in the game. He had the most tackles (five) and third most interceptions (four) out of both teams, as well. In terms of passing, Rocha could have done better as he finished with just an 80% passing accuracy on 55 passes, however he was playing out of position at left back.
This is another reason why this was his best game. Statistically, this was not Rocha’s best game but he was playing out of position and proved that he can jump head first in different circumstances and be able to hold his own. In this game, Dom Dwyer missed a golden opportunity that could have changed the entire course of the match that started with Rocha. The 25-year-old had the ball out wide, and provided a service to Dwyer that he had no business missing. However, the striker slid to try to knock it in and missed the ball.
2018 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave the versatile midfielder a composite score of 5. He proved he could play in many different systems and was often one of the better players on the team when he was in. The fact that he played in so many different positions helped his score and he was solid all around this season. His passing ability was one of the best on the team and he rarely turned the ball over. He made some errors when playing on the back line, but no goals let in were solely because of his mistake and he improved quickly.
He needs to improve more on the offensive end as well but this play below shows that he is not far off. His service was perfect for Dwyer but his give-and-go and off the ball movement were even better.
Rocha should still be in Orlando City’s plans next season. He does not have the quality to be an everyday starter but he is an excellent option off the bench, helped by his defensive and passing ability and versatility. He can play several positions and he doesn’t cost a lot of money. Assuming James O’Connor deploys a 3-4-3 next season, Rocha could come off the bench and play at center back, left wingback, or midfield. He has improved every year since joining OCB and he should continue this trend into next season.
Previous Orlando City Season in Review Posts (Date Posted)
- Cam Lindley (10/31)