The time to start winning games is now — okay, actually, the time to start winning games was back in the first week of March, but it’s better now than never for Orlando City, which is struggling to stay above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference as the Lions close in on the midway point in their season.
The Lions have drawn in more than half of their games this season — eight times through their first 14 matches — and sit on 17 points, good enough for eighth place in the East.
Obviously, there’s still plenty of time for this team to put things together and practically have a shot at winning the conference because of how bad the rest of the teams in the East are — the transfer window is yet to open, Kaká still hasn’t played in a string of games, and once things finally fall into place, things could start to change for the second-year club.
This Saturday, Toronto FC comes to town, and if there was ever a better opportunity for Orlando City to grab three points, the Lions probably drew the match anyway.
The Reds only sit two points above the Lions in the standings, and come into the match without Jozy Altidore, who remains out with a hamstring injury, and Michael Bradley, who won’t be rejoining his club team until the USMNT finishes up its Copa America run in the third-place game this weekend. Toronto is also coming off a Canadian Championship match on Tuesday night, meaning the Reds will be traveling into Orlando on short rest, and shorthanded.
Including Open Cup matches, the Lions are heading into a stretch where they’ll be playing at least eight games across the next five weeks. Coming off their disappointing late draw against San Jose this past weekend, a win at home against a tough Eastern Conference foe could be a big boost for the club with road trips to Dallas, Vancouver, and Columbus all coming up within the next month.
Another draw — or worse, a loss — on Saturday puts even more pressure on the club to do well in the Open Cup, which continues next Wednesday with a home match in the fifth round against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, which, as much as the Lions already want to win, becomes more difficult when they have to win.
It’s time to start winning games. Saturday is the time. Camping World Stadium is the place.