On Sunday, Venezuelan international Yohandry Orozco announced himself to the NASL with his first start against the Carolina RailHawks, and he certainly did not disappoint. Orozco picked the ball up on the left wing, weaving his way through two defenders and rocketing a shot into the upper 90 on keeper Brian Sylvestre for the game’s only goal. Orozco’s energized performance earned him not only league Player of the Week honors, but high praise from his manager Giovanni Savarese.
“We know the quality that Orozco has,” stated the coach. ” If you saw some of the goals in his history, he’s scored those type of goals. He’s excellent on the one-on-one and he was able to strike the ball perfectly to connect and score the goal that was important for us to get the victory. He’s growing. It’s been a little while without him playing. He did the preseason and now he’s getting back to his best shape.”
In his post-game comments, it was evident how much the goal and performance meant to Orozco. Venezuela’s number ten was absent from the game he loved for nearly half a year, due to a contract dispute with MLS club FC Dallas and lack of playing time with Saudi outfit Al-Ittihad. He spoke to reporters after the Carolina match about what the start (and goal) meant to him:
“I am very honored with the trust that Gio has put in me. I was very happy I fulfilled my desire. Since yesterday I was thinking about scoring today and I was thinking about it very hard. I guess it works out when you think about it a lot. I was very happy because after five months I stared to feel like I wasn’t a soccer player, but now that I’ve returned I feel like a real soccer player and I want to get ready to return to the national team as well.”
He echoed the sentiment and offered a dedication in his comments to Cosmos TV’s Chelsea Cabarcas.
“I dedicate this goal to the entire time I was not able to compete. After six months of not being able to play, I’m glad to be back. I was eager to play and when the anthem came on I began to cry because I had flashbacks. I dedicate this to my family back in Venezuela and hope to be called back to the national team.”
It was a surprising moment of genuine emotion for the former “Vinotinto”, best known for his goal against Peru in U-20 World Cup qualifying in 2012. There was something in the eyes of Yohandry Orozco that every manager loves to see in a player, a level of world-class focus blended with a swelling amount of personal confidence. The stoic look on his face that masked this showed a deeper feeling: one of loss, one of longing. This is a man that truly loves his football, loves his country, and wants to be contributing to both at all times.
There also seems to be an internal reassurance with Yohandry. It’s only natural for a player to be nervous and apprehensive in a completely new atmosphere, especially after Orozco’s failed stint at German club Vfl Wolfsburg. But, this time around seems different. He’s enjoying his time in New York, always thankful in his (somewhat abundant) Instagram posts. It’s also no secret that his teammates have taken to him as well. He has a budding friendship with midfielder Michael Lahoud, and even mentioned Sunday how his chemistry with fellow Venezuelan Juan Arango and striker Jairo Arrieta has reached such a level that they discuss running certain plays and passing patterns pregame.
Yohandry Orozco is undoubtedly a man on a mission to rediscover both his personal level of football, and his play at the helm of his beloved national team. If this Sunday is any indication, both will be coming much sooner rather than later.