The MLS Cup match between the Portland Timbers and Atlanta United is a mere 6 days away. The culmination of the 2018 MLS season is about to set some records while we here in the Sunshine State are left reeling from a death in the family, the firing of a GM, and 11th hour reporting of the end of year roster options.
On top of all of that, if you are tied into the social media platforms, then it is also certain that you have at least seen, heard, or were witness to at least one of the seemingly weekly rumors that is floating through the ether. It is a minefield to wade through, and there is no magical metal detector to help find the one clear path, and it becomes a mountain of a task to try to dig through the “sources” to find if there is even a shred of credibility in what you hear.
It doesn’t take long to find someone posting the looking eyes on twitter or Facebook, a name that pops up from some social media account that has a dozen followers, or some story from three years ago starts making the rounds again. I can’t count the number of times players like Javier “Chicharito” Hernández were hours away from joining the club. As the transfer window approaches, big names are bound to find their way tied to our beloved Orlando City, but each rumor should be taken with a grain of salt.
The rumor mill has already showed its fickle nature in the past few weeks. So many posts popped up in the week before the player option deadline that swore that this player was leaving, and that this player was staying, and everyone knew beyond a shadow of a doubt because their cousin goes to church with a man whose wife does the landscaping for the neighbors of [insert player name here] and overheard a conversation in which said player mentioned he knew he was leaving. Let’s also not forget how many people take things they see from players on social media and completely misinterpret what is being said.
I am pretty sure every post, or mention, of the above post lead to 99% of the people saying that Mohamed El-Munir was not going to be returning to the club in 2019. As far as what we know right now, he is, but Chris Schuler is not. People swore they knew for absolute certainty that El-mo was not going to be a Lion next season, and then when the roster moves were released, those people disappeared, or have become dead silent.
Two of the current swirling rumors are that the club is (again) chasing Christian Cueva, Peruvian national team player who currently plays in Russia for Krasnodar, and is one of the teams interested in Osvaldo Alonso of the Seattle Sounders. Both players would no doubt bring something to the Lions, but at this point it is very difficult to figure out what. Cueva would be the attacking type number 10 that the team has been looking for for years. Alonso brings a wealth of MLS experience, including never playing an MLS season in which the Sounders did not make the playoffs. The thing to consider with that rumor is does Orlando need another defensive midfielder at this point?
It is only going to get worse as we traverse the timeline that leads the team into 2019. The expansion draft is looming, the club currently has no GM, the fan base is still questioning some of the contract decisions as players say their goodbyes, even if the door may not be completely shut behind them. Remember, contracts can still be renegotiated, sometimes the best mechanism to do so is not exercising options. Names will be flying around, players will be linked to Orlando City from far and wide, and suspect news agencies, online accounts, and social media “gurus” will have all kinds of fodder to throw at us fans in order to garner the all mighty clicks they think they so richly deserve.
Take everything you hear and read over the next three to four months with a healthy dose of skepticism. I am sure at some point, some mega name, a Neymar or a Ronaldo, will be linked with the club somehow. The rebuilding has most certainly begun, and it is going to get weirder and more painful before it gets better and easier to swallow. Reading the rumors can be a hilarious way to pass some time, but we all need to band together to be realistic when we hear them. Also remember that nothing is final until that all important press release is sent out on the web by the club.
Trust me, your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s niece may have been on a blind date in Winter Park and sat in the same restaurant as [insert player name here], but I have my doubts that she really knows the complexity of the contract negotiations she claims to.