Our City is a weekly column dedicated to my views of Orlando City on and off the field from the supporter's perspective. Any comments or questions can be directed to Kevin Mercer on Twitter @KevinIsHistory
As Orlando City steps onto the field at the Citrus Bowl Friday night against New York City, there will be a number of players absent from the mix due to suspensions. Most notably, of course, will be Brazilian superstar and Orlando captain Kaká, as well as U.S. national team member Brek Shea.
The last home game of a season has a tendency to have at least a sense of sentimentality. It is a chance for the fans to show their support for the players and for the players to return the gesture. Unless Orlando makes the playoffs, this game will be the last ninety minutes of a season long celebration of the city's first year in Major League Soccer. With off-season moves, this inaugural bunch of Lions will be a changed group when they next take the field for the 2016 season. As expected, the supporters will shower the boys with purple in appreciation after the final whistle.
Kaká, and Brek Shea, will both be unable to bask in that applause. Due to an accumulation of yellow cards, both players will be forced to sit out Friday's curtain closer. That's disappointing because these two players have done so much for Orlando this season. While all the players have earned the appreciation of the supporters, these two have taken chances to come to Orlando City's inaugural experiment. Both could have signed for more money or more established teams, but chose to take part in this project.
Like all of us, players talk about their workplace. How's the work environment? What's the boss like? Do you feel like this is a place you can do your best work? As Orlando City continues to establish itself in the world of top-tier professional soccer, these questions will be asked of our players as they return to homes across the world, play international games, and practice with other players from other leagues.
We can build a nice stadium, run a professional organization, and develop a first class system, but our players will always be our best recruitment tool. The short of it: we'd better make sure that Kaká, Brek Shea, and other top players are feeling the love. We'd better make sure that at the end of any sentence discussing Orlando City is punctuated by a statement declaring that the fans in Orlando are top notch.
That's not to say we haven't been all season. Selling out the Citrus Bowl and having the second highest average attendance this season have all been fantastic. The players seem to be happy in Orlando so far.
While we salute the majority of them Friday night, I'd have hoped we might have a chance to applaud Shea and Kaká one more time. Orlando's first season in MLS has been a better experience for all of us due to their taking a chance on an upstart soccer club from Central Florida.
Then again, if we make the playoffs, we can thank them then!