First of all, happy new year to each and every one of you reading my first column of 2017, and I’d like to thank you for sticking around for another year of this high-profile content.
As you may or may have not been made aware of by now, the MLS preseason kicks off later this month. That means the new season is almost upon us, so it’s time to break out the crystal ball once again and announce my three bold predictions for Orlando City in the 2017 season.
In case you were wondering, yes, I did do this same post last off-season, and if you would like to see how wrong I ended up being on each of the five picks I made last December, you can go ahead and click on the link attached right in this line.
And now, without further delay, let’s get this show on the road.
Orlando City Will Go Undefeated At Home
The Citrus Bowl (or Camping World Stadium, whatever you want to call it) played as a great host to the Lions in each of their first two seasons in MLS, as the club managed to go 13-12-9, and this season they’ll open up a brand new $155 million, 25,500-seat stadium just a few blocks away from downtown Orlando. From day one, it’ll be one of the loudest places in the league, in addition to being one of the toughest places to play. For a visiting team to take three points back home from Orlando, they’re going to have to take down not just the players, but the entire Lion Nation. I can’t promise they’ll win every game, I’m just saying they won’t lose.
The Lions have failed to make the playoffs through two seasons in the league, coming close both times, but not quite getting to add more games to the schedule. This season however, Orlando City not only has the new stadium on its side but also Jason Kreis, who is ready to coach his first full season in the Sunshine State after having an off-season to build the team he wants. The Lions have a promising chance to compete for a playoff spot in the tough and ever-improving Eastern Conference, which will also be adding a new team this season in Atlanta United.
Antonio Nocerino Will Score A Couple of Goals
One of the fun things to watch down the stretch of the season was the confidence that Nocerino was building to take more risky and challenging shots on goal. He came close to scoring a couple of times, but just couldn’t push it across the finish line. I think that not only does he finally find the back of the net in 2017, but he’ll do it multiple times! Okay, maybe this wasn’t a terribly bold prediction, but sometimes you just gotta play it safe to save face.