It's been a rough season for Orlando City, and by this time you've heard about it all so I won't bore you with the details.
But if you look at the team's past five matches, you wouldn't know there were any problems to begin with. After a thrilling 2-1 victory over New York City FC at the Citrus Bowl on Friday night, the Lions became just the third time in Major League Soccer this season to win five straight matches -- joining the New England Revolution (6) and FC Dallas (5), two of the best teams in the league.
With just one game left in their inaugural season -- Sunday at Philadelphia -- the Lions have set their sights on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as they narrowly trail the Montreal Impact heading into the final weekend. The chances of making it are remote, but even to have an outside shot with a game to play is an accomplishment for an expansion team.
This season may not finish how the Orlando City front office drew it up, but the Lions will head into 2016 with plenty of momentum on their side.
After a slow start to the season, Carlos Rivas had one of his best games of the season on Friday night, adding to the great form he's been in over the past few months. He was putting up some of the best crosses we've seen him serve -- he easily could have left with four assists under his belt -- and he didn't belt any shots towards Downtown Disney!
This kid's grown tremendously this season, and will hopefully serve a big role for the club next season as originally hoped for.
Elsewhere on the pitch, there's Cyle Larin, who recovered from a very sloppy first 45 minutes to knock in two goals in the second half, bringing his MLS rookie record-shattering goal total to 17 this season. After tying the record in July, Larin stood quiet for a while, giving the impression to everyone that he was out of gas, before going on his recent rampage, with six goals in his last three matches. He'll also finish the season on a huge confidence-boosting high note.
If Saturday night's home finale against NYCFC proved anything, it's that this team has come a long way from the one that opened its MLS campaign against this very same NYCFC on this very same field back in March.
The Lions have grown, through the massive struggles, to become a team fighting by tooth and nail for a playoff berth.
Regardless of what happens next Sunday in Philadelphia, Orlando City is setting itself up to go into the 2016 season with plenty of momentum.