(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

ORLANDO, Fla. – During a 1-1 draw between Orlando City B and the Rochester Rhinos on June 7, midfielder Richie Laryea connected with 24-year-old forward Hadji Barry on a threaded pass through the Rhinos’ defense, leading to Barry’s second goal in two games. Barry attributed this play to the understanding him and Laryea share together both on and off the pitch.

“Richie is a good friend of mine, so every time we step on the field, you know, we want to showcase the chemistry we have off the field, relate that into the field.” Barry said after the Rochester match. “You know, it was a great ball by him. We have that chemistry. I played him one-two, he played it right back to me, and I kind of took it around the keeper and finished it.”

Orlando City SC drafted Laryea with the seventh-overall pick in the 2016 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Six picks later, the Lions selected University of Central Florida product Barry with the 13th-overall pick. Barry has made 11 appearances for the MLS side so far, three this season, notching one assist for the first team in 2016.

Both players have been given opportunities to prove themselves on OCB this season. Barry has notched three goals and an assist in five games while Laryea has done the same in nine games. For head coach Anthony Pulis, both players’ friendship off the field has translated into performance during matches.

“Yeah, well I think everybody knows they’re good friends off the field. And this year they’ve certainly improved their performances on the field as well.” Pulis said before training Monday. “And I think it just shows you the confidence that these young players get from playing competitive minutes. Whether it’s MLS, USL, they’ve both been playing, they’ve both been scoring goals, making goals, performing positively for us. So we’re pleased with that.”

Barry and Laryea are currently tied with forward Albert Dikwa as the leading goal-scorers for OCB and have contributed on more than half of the Lion’s 15 scores this season. Laryea is also leading the team in shots (14) as well as shots on target (12).

Midfielder Austin Martz attributes their success to the way they understand each other.

“I think they understand each other really well,” Martz said before training Monday. “And I think they’ve been linking up with good combination play with each other, and that’s only made us better going forward. So, I think seeing them connect has been a really big influence for us this year.”

The Lions travel to Laryea’s home country to face Toronto FC II on Wednesday at noon.


For more on the bromance between Barry and Laryea, follow Tommy on Twitter at @NDR_TomCardinal.

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