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Molino ‘Still Building’ For Club and Country

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 09/08/16, 4:47PM EDT


Two-time USL Most Valuable Player has had breakout MLS season in 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Watching Trinidad & Tobago international Kevin Molino acting as a key cog for his country’s attack against the United States in World Cup Qualifying on Tuesday night, it’s a reminder of how far the 26-year-old attacking midfielder has come since his arrival with Orlando City SC in 2011.

Part of the Lions’ inaugural squad in the USL, and a two-time Most Valuable Player in the league in 2012 and 2014, Molino has had a breakout year in his second season in Major League Soccer with the Lions, notching nine goals and seven assists as the regular season enters its closing stages.

The maturation of his game has also been reflected on the international stage for the Soca Warriors. Since returning from a torn ACL that ended his 2015 season prematurely after only seven MLS games for Orlando, Molino came back to figure in T&T’s advancement to the final stage of World Cup Qualifying, cementing a place in the starting lineup in the process.

“First and foremost, it’s always great to represent my country and to be part of this amazing young team,” Molino said following Tuesday’s game at EverBank Stadium. “We’re still building, and we still have a long way to go, and I’m just happy to be part of this organization and part of this, representing my country.”

A native of Carenage in Trinidad, Molino always aspired to this level, not only for himself, but for the people he might be able to influence with a successful career. That determination has served him well, as he looks to lead on the field, and inspire off it.

“As a young kid I always wanted to be a professional footballer. I always wanted to inspire people and show people that this is the way you can go, to motivate the young kids out there,” Molino said. “Once you believe, anything is possible. I’m happy to be part of Orlando City. Over the past couple of years, they’ve helped me grow tremendously, and I want to give them credit for it.”

Molino grew considerably while part of the Lions’ championship teams in 2011 and 2013, and then had his own breakout season in Orlando’s final season in the USL in 2014. With a then-record 20 goals and nine assists, Molino led the league in both categories, but he knew there was still work to be done as the club made the move to Major League Soccer in 2015.

“When you try to go up to MLS, there’s a little more quality, so my concentration has to be at the higher level. You have to be much more hungry,” Molino said.

Photo courtesy Orlando City SC

It’s helped that he’s had some top players join him in Orlando’s attacking corp. Former World Player of the Year Kaka has been a talisman for the Lions since his signing was announced in 2014, but the addition of young Canadian striker Cyle Larin with the club’s first SuperDraft selection last year has also paid major dividends for the side.

“We have come together very well on and off the park,” said Molino. “Especially with Cyle, he’s a nice person and with his being from Jamaica he has that Caribbean background.”

With qualification for The Hex secured with T&T, Molino now returns to a heated playoff race for the Lions in the MLS Eastern Conference. After Wednesday night’s 4-1 win against Montreal, Orlando has edged into the sixth and final playoff place in the standings. With seven games to go in the regular season, the pressure is on to earn a first postseason berth in MLS for the club.

“Hopefully we can get into the playoffs,” Molino said. “We still have a long way to go, but once I stay focused and mentally ready for each and every game and keep the continuity going with Kaka and Cyle, it’ll go a long way.”

Photo courtesy Orlando City SC

As for Molino’s personal aspirations, the horizon is open wide. Whether pursuing the Lions’ first silverware in MLS, or trying to guide Trinidad & Tobago to a second consecutive World Cup berth, Molino believes his attitude is going to be crucial as he looks to leave a lasting imprint on both teams.

“It depends on how I approach it,” he said. “Most important is the training park, [which] is where I get my success. The game is the easy part, so once I continue working hard in training and being hungry and show that determination every day, the sky is the limit, not just for me, but also for the team.”

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