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View from the Endline: Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

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2018 brought so many memories, and 2019 looks even better.

As you read this, you will certainly also know that 2018 is breathing its dying breath. In mere hours we will be quietly, or loudly, saying our final goodbyes to 2018 and welcoming the new year with open arms, and hopefully with a few good luck kisses. As this is my last article of the year, it seemed only fitting to spend a few moments with words, sentences, and paragraphs, reflecting on the year that was, and preparing for the year to come.

2019 will mark my third season sharing thoughts and stories with all of you. I began this verbose adventure about a year and half ago, in the later stages of the 2017 MLS campaign. This season was my first full season writing and discussing Orlando City with all of you, and boy did it teach me a lot.

There have been some late nights, some scrambles to find WiFi signals, some completely bonehead mistakes, missed deadlines, misstated facts, and any other sundry of complications and issues to try to get stories out to you. Some of the stories have just been about the facts before us, some of them have been about my opinions of those facts, and some have even been me poking the hornet’s nest just a bit to try to spark some conversation in the story stream.

Other stories have just been about me and my crazy adventures in the world of football. There were a few away games to help support the Lions, but mostly they centered around being a City fan in a world that really is larger than anyone wants to acknowledge. You really get a levelheaded look at the world being a neutral fan of football, out in the world, when the city you are in has two clubs playing in major international tournaments, one home and one away. Wearing a strange strip (aka shirt) from a football club that 99.5% people would not recognize on that day creates some absolutely amazing conversations, very positive conversations, as long as you also know how to not step in it by making the wrong comment about one of the two aforementioned clubs.

Three times this year I have been fortunate enough to report back to you all on my adventures watching Kilmarnock FC and eating the Killie pies at Rugby Park and the Park Hotel. My heart will always belong to Orlando City, but Kilmarnock FC is now my second home. Looking forward to 2019, there will be plenty more adventures and shenanigans from across the pond, I can assure you. I still need to get over to Celtic Park and Ibrox Stadium, and maybe even catch a match, as well as catch up with the Lord Provost of East Ayrshire and buy him that beer.

On the home front, I spent a good portion of the year staring up at my giant head on match day. It was an absolute honor to have been chosen to take part in the #FaceOfCity campaign for 2018, and I hope I lived up to the challenge. Through thick and thin, I have been behind this team and worn the purple proudly (although to be honest, my game day attire is typically all black). I do not blindly follow, and have certainly questioned, and will continue to question choices, starters, formations, tactics, etc., but this is the team I choose to call mine.

Any issues, disagreements, or outright rage comes from a place of deep love and respect that will continue long after 2019 and beyond. Good luck to the next batch of fans chosen for the 2019 #FaceOfCity campaign. I can tell you one thing, I am pretty confident that the bearded mantle will be passed, and to someone I consider family, who will bring so much more to you every week with his pictures.

The big question that I still have is what more can I do for you, the reader? When I first took this assignment, I had an in-depth discussion with the gentleman who started this thing about what I was hoping to bring to site. I wanted to bring a bit more of my experience as a fan to the site, not just analysis and commentary, and thankfully he has given me pretty free rein to write as I see fit, or as I am inspired. I would like to know if you have any suggestions for 2019. I know I need to be more connected to you all in the comment sections as I will openly admit that I did a pretty poor job of discussing my stories with you all after they got published. Is there anything else that you think I should focus on for 2019?

It is going to be a year shrouded in mystery. Although this club has gone through a few drastic off-seasons, I see this off season much more like the transition from the USL to MLS versus any of the transitional periods since joining. Sure, we are keeping a few pieces that we are all familiar with, but that familiarity may only go so far as knowing names and numbers.

It is certainly shaping up to be a wild 2019 MLS campaign for Orlando City and I for one am really looking forward to sharing my experience and perspective of it with you. The captain is bound to turn on the fasten seat belt sign at multiple points throughout our trip through 2019, so be prepared for the bumps and bruises along the way. I am looking forward to white knuckling this ride with every single one of you.