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Our City: Is Orlando City Defying Expectations or Merely Managing Them?

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Like many supporters, I put making the playoffs down as the minimum expectation for Orlando City's inaugural season. After a string of tough road losses and a team that looks like it's on the ropes, those hopes are fading fast. Is Orlando City still living by the hashtag #DefyExpectations or have we wanted too much, too fast?

Our City is a weekly column dedicated to the fans and supporter's perspectives of Orlando City. Any feedback, comments, or questions? Find Kevin Mercer on Twitter @KevinMercer225

Facing a must-win game to continue their playoff hopes, MLS new boys Orlando City only found a resolute shellacking when they matched up with the Seattle Sounders on Sunday. The club has been outscored in its last four road games by a resounding 16-5. With the next game away to the same Toronto FC club that beat the Lions 4-1 just two weeks ago -- without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore -- things don't look good for our heroes,

Thinking back to January, it was so easy for me to have the bold predictions of the club making the playoffs and enjoying a good inaugural campaign. Now, as the club stares into the dark abyss of an early exit, those predictions seem either naive or arrogant. I paid lip service to the fact that MLS was competitive, but it has taken the better part of a season to really understand just how competitive it really is.

So, are we still defying expectations at this point or are we just managing them?

That probably depends on your view. Yesterday's news that Orlando City has already sold out its allotment of 18,000 season tickets for 2016 tells me that most of us have a long view of how important this team is to the city and how well it will do moving forward. If I were a frustrated Orlando City player or part of the coaching staff, I'd be buoyed by the fact that 18,000 people in Central Florida have a lot of faith in this club and that the best is yet to come.

There was a lot of internet noise after Sunday's loss. The public expression of our frustrations on social media is expected. The team brought a lackluster effort and questionable tactics into one of the league's toughest stadiums to play against a talented Sounders club.

Frustrations boiled over for some, as crazy ideas of Adrian Heath's firing and sending Kaká back to Brazil poured fire on the passions of Orlando City fans. These irrational suggestions were met with a chorus of disapproval, showing again that Lions supporters are still backing their team.

Whether you've been following the club since the USL days or are a new supporter this year, none of us could ever define ourselves as long-suffering fans. Part of following a club is going through the rough years that make trophy celebrations that much sweeter.

I had an interesting exchange with a friend after the Seattle game. As a Liverpool "supporter" he claimed he was prepared to have his heart broken constantly with Orlando City. Somehow, as a guy who's lived his entire life in the United States and has never been to a Liverpool game at Anfield, he has paid his dues.

Most of us have grown up "supporting" clubs outside of Orlando -- teams we've built relationships with through the internet, cable TV, and FIFA and Football Manager games. I don't doubt the sincerity of these relationships and I understand the passions attached to clubs. At the end of the day, watching a club on television will never compare to supporting one in person.

To watch a team representing your city, showing up week in and week out, putting down your hard-earned money for tickets, standing in the rain, and watching your team in good times and bad -- that creates a supporter. Walking out of the heartbreaking early season loss to D.C. United, feeling the gutted energy of my fellow purple-clad fans, will never compare to any feelings I've felt after a tough defeat for one of my favorite European clubs.

As a young club, we don't even know the plight of a suffering fan. We aren't even close. MLS and its parity system only promises more seasons of highs and lows. If you can't manage your expectations in season one, you won't ever be ready for the passion that comes when we defy them.