D.C. United has been resurgent since the close of the summer transfer window. With new additions Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, and Zoltan Stieber, United has won three games on the bounce and is now within touching distance of Orlando City. United could actually surpass the Lions on a tiebreaker if it collects all three points on Saturday, pushing City to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. It’s a dismal circumstance for a team that had such high hopes just a few months ago.
Orlando City fans, for the most part, have given up on playoffs in year three. With an offense seemingly cursed to miss chances feet away from goal and a defense that has routinely made egregious errors, the last few weeks have been nothing short of a horror show. Playoffs are out of the question. Now it’s time to pull a page out of D.C.’s playbook.
Orlando doesn’t need to make the playoffs in 2017 anymore; the team needs to do something to give its fans hope that 2018 will be different.
The Jason Kreis era has been rocky outside of the Lions’ fantastic opening to this season. The former Real Salt Lake boss has now equaled Adrian Heath’s total of MLS losses a full six games earlier. And while it’s difficult to really compare the Kreis and Heath tenures fairly, the comparisons will still come. And the results haven’t been going Kreis’ way.
A 4-0 lashing at the hands of the formerly miserable New England Revolution put the proverbial nail in the 2017 season’s uninspiring coffin. Now it’s time to look to the future and give an acceptably frustrated fan base something to look forward to.
Results are secondary at this point. Whether the team wins, loses, or draws, it’s the performance that matters most. Yoshimar Yotun could be the beacon of talent City fans cling to after hitting the ground running in his first few matches. There are a handful of exciting players that could prove they have a bigger part to play in Orlando’s future. Record signing Dom Dwyer can provide an inclination that he can jump-start a below-average offense and live up to that hefty price tag and Designated Player salary.
Embrace the underdog role, play spoiler for playoff hopefuls and shake up the race, and maybe dash an Atlanta United team’s hopes.
It’s impossible to fix this season, but give us hope that things can turn around in 2018. After three straight seasons of failing to defy expectations, prove that next year might not be more of the last four months. Prove that 2017 was just a stepping stone to something better, that the draws and losses were teaching moments.
The front office was likely cleaning house at the end of the year already, barring an unlikely Cup run, but now it seems like a slew of changes once again instead of stability that the club has sorely lacked. And while that is inevitable, the final seven matches of the season are a proving ground as players fight for their jobs and the team fights to make us believers again.