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The 2017 Orlando City Season: The Five Stages of Grief

We’re here to help you work through the grief over a frustrating season.

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

This past season hurt, and if you’re grieving the losses, the lost opportunities, or Kaká leaving the team, it is important to work through the five stages of grief. We at The Mane Land are here to help all of you through this trying time. There’s no time like the present to get started.

Denial
MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After starting 6-1-0 through the end of April, those of us who support Orlando City were all feeling pretty darn good. It was the best start to a season for the Lions, the defense seemed to be clicking on every level, and it was all happening without Kaká through most of it. Then came May, in which the Lions posted a record of 1-4-2. May was the month of denial. Surely, given the fantastic start to the season it was simply that there were so many matches that month. There wasn’t enough rest, too much travel, and it was just growing pains as the team learned to play together. These were the things people said regarding the slide. Denial.

Anger
MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into June, it was evident that May was not just some weird lapse in the quality of the on-field product. This was exactly what the team was. Orlando was a 1-2-3 team. The rebound to earlier form wasn’t happening, and supporters were getting frustrated and angry. July offered no solace as the Lions posted an 0-2-1 record, and supporters were getting red in the face as the Lions slipped further down the standings. The anger came from the knowledge that after such a great start, and new additions to the roster, the ship wasn’t turning around. Anger.

Bargaining
MLS: Orlando City SC at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Please, please, please let Orlando City start winning again. That was the feeling as August rolled into September. Supporters weren’t completely insane in this thinking as that is exactly what happened in 2015, when Orlando City went on a five-game winning streak in September to make a run at the playoffs. If it happened in 2015, surely it could happen again. If we believe enough, man the wall, or whatever it takes, please let us go on such an inspiring streak again. Bargaining.

Depression
MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The 0-3-1 August record actually did get better in September with a 2-2-2 record, but the writing was on the wall. It was quite clear by the end of September that Orlando City’s chances of making the playoffs were quickly dwindling. After months of subpar performances, arrests, and players getting kicked out of Disney World, depression was setting in. The realization started to settle in that despite it being the primary goal of the club, Orlando City would not be above the red line as the season ended. Depression.

Acceptance
MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

To be fair, this one is still a work in progress. This wasn’t how this season was supposed to go. Cyle Larin and Dom Dwyer were supposed to become the dynamic duo. The 4-4-2 diamond was supposed to get sorted out and be effective. The defense was supposed to find its early season form. Orlando City was supposed to make the playoffs. One can intellectually accept that those things did not happen, but you can still be depressed and angry about it. You can even start bargaining on what will fix all of this for next season. Just don’t stay in denial, because there are things that need to be done this off-season. Acceptance.

I don’t know if this will help anyone, but it was certainly cathartic for me. As I’m now firmly in acceptance, I can look forward to all the potential going forward. I hope you join me.