Two games into his debut season in Major League Soccer, Sebastián Méndez says this is exactly the type of challenge he was expecting when signed for Orlando City during the offseason.
The Lions have yet to taste three points this season, shelling out two draws to start the 2019 campaign. But perhaps a slow start to begin the year is an indication of the team still fully coming together before results go in their favor, Méndez surely feels.
“Honestly, after each game I’ve been feeling good, the team has brought me in closer in the best possible manner,” Méndez told the Orlando Soccer Journal on Wednesday. “Little by little, I’m bettering my game, as you saw we’ve had some results that weren’t in our favor and slipped out of our hands, but we have stay positive to see the results eventually come our way.”
The midfielder has so far been an integral part of James O’Connor’s starting lineup, featuring in both of Orlando’s first two games of the 2019 season and playing his first full 90 minutes during last weekend’s disappointing 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire.
Méndez, 21, joined the Lions last December from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle, and said during preseason that the persistence from Luiz Muzzi and O’Connor convinced him to leave his boyhood club for MLS.
So far, a couple months into life in the United States, O’Connor continues to show his eagerness to help develop Méndez.
“He lets me know the mistakes I commit on the field and how to correct them,” Méndez said on O’Connor. “I’m really pleased with the relationship I have with him. He’s a transparent person, always open and that’s why I’m really happy.”
Méndez started and played 70 minutes during Orlando’s 2-2 season-opener against New York City FC earlier this month before playing the entire game last weekend against the Fire.
Both games from Méndez have left O’Connor impressed.
“We’ve been really impressed, really pleased,” said O’Connor on Méndez. “I think he’s someone we feel that could go on and have a really strong career. He’s very capable, if you look at his age, he’s so young.”
“There’s a load of potential there. Our goal with Sebastián is to keep chipping away at his development. He’s got a high ceiling, that boy. We think he can go on and do a lot,” added O’Connor.
On the national team front, Méndez received a call-up to represent the Ecuadorian national team ahead of next week’s training camp.
The midfielder said he was honored to have receive the call-up from La Tricolor, but quickly shifted the focus to this weekend’s club match against the Montreal Impact.
“Whenever you get a call up from the national team, it’s always a privilege,” he said. “It’s an honor to wear the jersey of your country. I was happy when I got news of the call-up because it meant I can contribute to my country.”
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