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How Important is Orlando City’s Great Start at Home?

Turning the home field into a fortress could pay off big in the Lions’ quest to make the MLS postseason for the first time.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City SC has been nothing short of impressive over the first weeks of the 2017 Major League Soccer season. The Lions not only have their best-ever season start so far (4-0-1, 12 points), as they became the first team in MLS history to open up a stadium with four straight wins after a 2-1 victory against the LA Galaxy last Saturday.

The team’s hot start is by good reason exciting and boosting the confidence of both the fans and the players, but one might be asking how important the recent results really are to the club’s short- and long-term aspirations. They are huge, believe me.

Not sure yet? So take a look at this:

Yes, winning at home is one of the keys to succeed in MLS. During the last two seasons, the Lions struggled on their home field, winning only 51 of 102 possible points (50%), definitely something that ruined their playoff aspirations.

“In this league, it's no secret that it's pretty difficult to win on the road”, said midfielder Will Johnson after the victory over the Galaxy. “Our fans here are fantastic. I think that was the loudest they've been all season when Cyle [Larin] scored that goal in the last four minutes of stoppage time. It was incredible. That's the type of atmosphere that gives you that extra boost when you feel like you have nothing left. To be able to give a little bit more to see the result out — thank you to the fans, that was awesome, and we've got to keep it going”.

Since the Lions joined MLS, the 2016 Montreal Impact (7-5-5) was the only team to make it to the playoffs with fewer than eight home wins. On the other hand, last year’s Portland Timbers (12-3-2) were the only club not to compete in the postseason after winning at least ten home games. The Timbers, though, were awful on the road (0-11-6) and even though they were bad on the road, they were still only two points short of advancing.

With Orlando City scheduled to play 13 more home games in the 2017 regular season, it’s hard to believe the team will not reach double digit wins in its new downtown stadium.

Another important thing that the recent results are helping to build is a positive atmosphere at the new stadium. When a club has a new home, all it wants is that the fans have a great experience at games and that is something the Lions’ supporters are definitely enjoying every time the team sees the field in Orlando.

“There's no trophies in April, or May, or June or whatever. We're setting ourselves up to do something special, and I think that's a good way to put it,” added Johnson. “This has the potential to be the start of something pretty cool here. But there is a heck of a long way to go. We know that — you guys know that — everybody around the league knows that. It's early.”