Our City is a weekly column dedicated to the culture surrounding Orlando City, Major League Soccer, and the American soccer scene.
Happy New Year’s Eve, readers! On this most festive of days, many of us find ourselves simultaneously contemplative about the year that has passed and ambitious about one we will ring in tonight at midnight. In that spirit, many of us will begin the new year with resolutions.
The spike in gym memberships and our newfound advocacy for kale salad signal ambitions to be better versions of ourselves in 2018. Orlando City supporters will hope that this season of self-improvement hasn’t been lost on our beloved club. Undoubtedly, supporters are ready to see a better version of the Lions in 2018.
The team that came into Major League Soccer on the momentum of lower league success vowed in 2015 to “defy expectations.” Many elements of those first few seasons did just that, but accomplishment on the field has continued to elude the Lions. With that in mind, Orlando’s mantra for 2018 should be to “resolve expectations.”
Put simply, our honeymoon seasons are over. If you read this column weekly or go anywhere near any of the Orlando City conversations happening on social media, this won’t come as a shock. There is a collective mood among those with a collection of purple jerseys and scarves in their closets, that simply being an “also ran” in MLS is no longer acceptable.
A conversation I and many of the Orlando City Twitter community engaged in recently reminded me of just how eager the club’s loyal support are eager to stop simply defying expectations and are ready to fulfill the promise of a great club in waiting.
Rumors about the Lions working to acquire New York Red Bulls midfield stalwart Sacha Kljestan have been encouraging in the past few days, with the most recent unconfirmed comments from sources confident the player is ready to make his way to the City Beautiful. However, when rumors included Orlando City’s young prodigy Pierre Da Silva going to New Jersey as part of the deal, the conversation of leveraging the future and the present became heated.
While I came out eager to keep our investment in the future, both sides of the debate were thoughtful and have their very valid points. I didn’t find myself in wholehearted disagreement with those eager to get a proven play-maker, whatever the cost. They made really solid points. The last rumors I saw had the deal nearly done without the inclusion of Da Silva. Who knows where the discussion will be by the time this article posts?
Regardless of how you’d view a trade involving a proven player for a promising but unknown commodity, the debate suggests just how powerful the “win now” debate is among the Orlando City support. After a quiet first few weeks of the club’s massive off-season rebuilding project, action from the front office has brought some hope with the addition of four new players and the reacquisition of Dillon Powers. Transfer rumors swirling around a number of interesting prospects have further enticed the support.
These moves are suggestive of a club in tune with its “win now” supporters, who seem eager to stop simply defying expectations and are ready to resolve them. Much like the good-intentioned pledge to start going to the gym in the new year, we know it is just as important to go on Jan. 1 as it is to still be there on March 1. Our resolutions are only successful with longevity and what my grandmother called stick-to-itiveness. The hard work that Jason Kreis and the front office are doing now will answer all the questions we have about the 2018 season in good time, but if actions are any indication, Orlando looks eager to resolve the expectations the club has weaved into their DNA in the coming year.
Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours, both on and off the field! Do you have any Orlando City or soccer related resolutions this year?