Our City is a weekly column dedicated to a supporter’s view of Orlando City and Major League Soccer
While I was settling in to watch the late show from Seattle on Wednesday, something caught my eye. As the team entered the pregame huddle, I noticed that Carlos Rivas seems to have an Orlando City badge tattooed on his hand. Have a look at the picture and judge for yourself, but it sure does look like it from here. It would seem the striker who brings us moments of brilliance and frustration in equal measure is so committed to the club that he’s taken the step of tattooing the club’s iconic lion in the most visible of places. Such permanent signs of devotion to a club are usually reserved for the most hardcore of supporters, and not usually players in a landscape of mercenary buying and selling of player services.
Having artwork on your hands holds a special place in tattoo culture. Most artists won’t tattoo hands until a person has significantly had artwork done on the rest of their body. Even the most heavily tattooed of us know that a hand tattoo is a serious commitment.
Speaking of commitment, Rivas and his teammates pulled out the most spectacular of draws in that game against the Seattle Sounders. A midweek game, away at the defending MLS Cup Champions, in front of 40,000+ fans, after traveling across the country, is a significant result. The fact that it came in the absolute last second of the game meant the team showed resolve when it could have just been as easy to capitulate, knowing the excuses for a poor result would be easily available.
While last night’s run out against the Chicago Fire was one of the lower points of the season, even down four goals and on exhausted legs, the Lions looked for their chances. Rivas seemed to even take a nasty injury as he was brutally tackled by the Fire goalkeeper as he streaked towards the goal. Games like last night have been the exception more than the rule this season.
Last weekend, our Lions tied another game in the dying seconds a few days before that at home, in a 3-3 draw against the Montreal Impact. In a game that should have been a win, the club struggled through a frustrating affair that saw the Lions give up easy goals to allow the Impact a way into a game they didn’t dominate. After going down, the players could have decided it wasn’t going to be their night and started looking towards the next game. Again, patient and committed, the club kept searching for goals.
Thinking back to the earlier match-up with the Chicago Fire, when the team went down two players from red cards. Again, the excuses were there on the table had they not pulled out a brave 0-0 draw. With everything seeming to go against them, the Lions pulled together and showed commitment.
As you keep looking back at the season thus far, there are those moments of commitment. Late goals, crazy off-the-line saves from Bendik and Spector, and a belief in themselves even when things aren’t working in their favor.
Sure, the supporters wish the club was a bit higher in the standings. There have been a few lost opportunities and rough nights for the club. But as a supporter, seeing the level of commitment this club has exhibited gives me so much to be excited about. While we talk about potential signings, more appropriate roles, or who should be starting, you can’t buy commitment. You can’t assign point values to “heart and hustle.” Jason Kreis has found a way to get this group of players to totally buy into each other and his system. Some nights it works, some nights it doesn’t, but the effort is there.
As teams cross this midpoint in the season, Orlando is in a solid playoff position. While MLS is a competitive league, the players seem to be eager to give as good as they get for the rest of the season, putting them in a positive position as the playoffs come into view. Without making any predictions, I’m buoyed by the commitment the team has shown to grind out games. With MLS Cups won on tenacity and desire as much as talent, this club looks competitive. And that is all you can ask, right?
I’ll echo the sentiments of most fans and say we don’t expect you to always win, but we do expect you to play with heart, commitment, and bring honor to the club and city you represent.
While I can’t confirm if Carlos Rivas has a hand tattoo of the Orlando City badge, I really hope he does. I hope he loves this club as much as you and I do. I’ll settle for the dedication on the field that he and his teammates have shown the past few weeks. Still a lot of work to do, as Kreis would say, but the commitment is there. And that’s all I could ask for.
What do you think? Has Orlando City shown the commitment to make good things happen this season? Have you enjoyed these doses of soccer induced cardiac arrest? What do you think, does Carlos Rivas really have an Orlando City hand tattoo? Comment below!