With everything on the line once again this weekend, Orlando City takes to the field at the Citrus Bowl to face the Montreal Impact. Both teams head into this weekend's game on three-game winning streaks in a race with one another to make the playoffs. A combined five out of the 11 players on the current MLS Team of the Week come from these two sides, making it an all-star match-up of sorts.
However, the fact that Orlando City is even in this position is pretty amazing. After going virtually two months without a win, the team has eventually come good. The return of Brek Shea, the emergence of Bryan Róchez and the growth of David Mateos have all been covered by us here at The Mane Land. However, one person we have not yet given proper credit to is Rafael Ramos, a player so often overlooked despite his effort.
While the return of Shea has undoubtedly helped us achieve a higher level of play, throughout the tough times the team was also missing its best right back on a side of the field that was already weak, and it has to be highlighted that the resurgence has also come on the back of Ramos' play.
At the start of the season, the 20-year-old Portuguese looked like a seasoned veteran at the RB position; he was able to change games through his pace and provided an extra dimension to the team. Then came the first Columbus game and, with a wild challenge, it looked like his season might have hit the skids.
However, after apologizing for his mistake, he got another chance. Then a mid-season injury struck him down. During this time, Orlando proceeded to have its worst run of games in its entire franchise history. Since his recovery, though, Orlando City has gotten its season back on track and now comes Ramos' biggest challenge of the season.
Regardless of whether or not Didier Drogba steps onto the field tomorrow night, Ramos is set for the biggest night of his young career. For whoever is up front for Montreal, Ramos and the entire Orlando City defense will be up against two of the fastest wingers in Major League Soccer. Both Dilly Duka and Dominic Oduro will be dangerous all night and will be able to set up service or draw challenges for Montreal's forwards, regardless of whom they are, and that is where Ramos will have to keep his cool, as tomorrow will be a night for calm heads and not reckless challenges in a must-win game.
Games are won through team performances, but games are lost by individuals. And now that we have the chemistry for winning, it is important that every individual plays his part and remembers that there is no I in team. Young Ramos didn't get that at the start of the season, but now he does.
We have seen better performances from him of late, and let's hope that his growth and the resurgence of Orlando City can continue.