Right now, Hurricane Matthew is casting its large, powerful shadow over most of the state of Florida. And lately, it kinda feels like that same shadow has been cast over Orlando City land with the club’s second consecutive playoff miss confirmed in the past week.
But soon, Matthew will be gone, and so too will be the doom and gloom that so many City fans seem to suggest on a daily basis.
The day is dark, but the future is still very bright for Orlando City.
There’s That New Stadium Coming
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Orlando City will be opening a brand new $150 million, 25,000-seat stadium just a couple blocks west of downtown in 2017. After spending the last two seasons — and just about all of its existence, really — in Camping World Stadium (or the Citrus Bowl, if you’re a purist like myself), the Lions will be trading in the turf for the natural grass of their own stadium.
Attendance has never been an issue for the club in MLS, and the stadium atmosphere is easily one of the best in the league. Putting all of that in a new, soccer-specific stadium will only electrify things once the ball gets rolling in 2017.
That alone is worth getting excited about for next year.
New Coach, Obvi
Jason Kreis will have 14 games under his belt by the time all is said and done this season. He hasn’t had much of a chance to implement his plan and his vision this season, but 2017 is the year. He’ll have had an entire offseason to construct a roster capable of carrying this club back to the playoffs.
Will he make the permanent switch to the diamond formation? Don’t know. Will Orlando City actually be a much better team? Don’t know.
But hey, most fans are ready for a different direction in play after these past two seasons, so there will be hype — at least for one more season — around the team heading into 2017, and not just for the stadium this time.
A Full Season of MPG
Matias Perez Garcia has been one of the few bright spots in this second half of the season for Orlando City, and there’s plenty of excitement to see what the former San Jose Earthquakes Designated Player can do for the club in 2017.
Kreis has been a fan of Perez Garcia for a while, and club president Phil Rawlins was very excited by his potential when I talked to him a few weeks ago.
His creativity has sparked some new life in the attack, and his combination play with Kaká and Kevin Molino has looked sharp for the most part.
The defense will be the biggest area of need for the Lions this offseason, as they won’t need to do much work on the attack, because they should be set with the front four they have now with MPG, Kaká, Molino, and Cyle Larin.