Orlando City supporters are waking up this morning with hoarse voices, maybe a bit hungover, and with soaring hearts. With the season on the brink, our Lions fought hard and played their hearts out. We are still in our improbable playoff hunt!
Forget the awful scenes of two of Orlando's brightest defenders being stretchered off the field. Forget one of the worst no-calls as Montreal striker Dominic Oduro kicked a ball in the possession of Orlando goalkeeper Tally Hall for a game tying goal. Forget all the questionable calls and the yellow cards that will put two of our best on the bench for the next all important game. Forget all the obstacles that still stand in our way to make the playoffs. All of that should fade from your memory for just a moment.
Just remember last night. A perfect Florida evening, and our Lions playing like champions. Remember Aurélien Collin frustrating Didier Drogba to make him a non-factor, remember Brek Shea, Kaká, and Carlos Rivas running riot through the midfield. Remember Cyle Larin with the luckiest of his 15 rookie record setting goals. Remember Seb Hines coming off the bench after tragedy struck, sending Tommy Redding and Rafeal Ramos off early.
Of course it would be Hines, that's how you'd write it wouldn't you. The quiet guy who's played hard all season, fighting back from an injury, stepping on the field because he's been called into service, all to put the most important goal of Orlando City's inaugural season deep into the back of the net.
And of course, it would be Luke Boden who lofted one of his trademark crosses into the box which lead to Hines' magic. Normally a starter, Boden came on with Hines to replace Ramos on the defensive wing. The original Lion, who has been here since the beginning and found himself with a starting role in MLS earned more through his work rate than his raw talent.
Hard working fan favorite passes to the consummate professional and all of a sudden the confetti raining down and all the applause aren't for the glamorous strikers or flashy midfielders, these cheers are for two of the unsung heroes that do all the dirty work. Honestly, you couldn't write a heroic sports moment any better.
Remember yourselves, the supporters. With the team looking mathematically eliminated from any post season play, the supporters came out in mass to show their love. With the game looking like a draw, and the referee working against us, the supporters were absolutely magnificent. All of them.
While last night's win keeps our playoff hopes alive, our destiny isn't completely in our hands. In the coming weeks we will be watching other match-ups closely.
I can tell you this, if Orlando City doesn't make the post season, it will be Major League Soccer's loss. I think this team, this city, and these supporters are exactly the thing the league needs to continue trying to appeal to soccer fans in the U.S.--and the world-- who haven't completely bought into MLS. While the league markets NYCFC and LA Galaxy ad nauseum, they are missing out on a chance to showcase what's going on here in Florida.
But let's not worry about that tonight, let's just remember one magical night in Orlando. #VamosOrlando #VivaHines #GoCity