Feb. 27, 2018, an article was published on this very site. It was the sixth installment of this very feature, the “View from the End Line.” In case you don’t know where that comes from, or what the heck it means, my seats in the stadium look right down the end line in front of the Wall, my articles sometimes come from my view of all things Orlando City from the end line, but I digress.
The article in question was a round table, where I asked all of the contributors to give me some thoughts on the upcoming season, and even to get a bit bold and make some predictions. I had honestly forgotten about that piece until I stumbled upon it just a few days ago. I figured since I faced the music and firing squad in my lackluster predictions month to month, why not take the magic time machine back almost a year and see how The Mane Land Staff imagined the 2018 season?
Here is a quick breakdown as to where the staff thought the Lions would finish the season. Out of respect, names will be withheld unless absolutely necessary to point fingers and laugh.
We predicted 15-9-10, 16-10-8, 15-10-8, 14-12-8, 15-9-10, 15-11-8, 14-10-10, and 16-10-8 (me).
Well, do we really need to continue to remind ourselves that none of these even came close? The actual numbers were 8-22-4.
Eastern Conference Result
The overwhelming consensus on this one was the expectation that City would finish above the red line, and the vast majority of the staff felt that translated into the Lions finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference. Based on the numbers above, you should have known these would be way off as well, but then we get to where the fun really begins.
Honestly, there was one staff writer who will remain nameless who predicted Justin Meram would be the season MVP for the Lions. Lamine Sané, Sacha Kljestan, Joe Bendik, and Josué Colmán also received early nods, but the one name that sneaked into almost all of the conversations was Yoshimar Yotún. I think it is safe to say that he was one of a very few diamonds in the rough this 2018 season.
A few names emerged from the answers to this question and some of them, like the names above, might be just as shocking. Stefano Pinho, Pierre Da Silva, and Scott Sutter were mentioned, but the majority of predictions were for Mohamed El-Munir, Colmán, and Chris Mueller to have breakout seasons. One writer who threw Mueller’s name out there even went so far as to say he would challenge for the MLS Rookie of the Year award. I think the crew nailed it in the expectations for Mueller and El-Mo, but fell flat on the rest.
This was meant to be just that — that one prediction where I asked the staff to give me one way out thought for 2018, and some of them are, well, I will let you decide. Here is a snap shot of some of the bold predictions, edited to fit this article format:
- Beating Atlanta in two of three matches and making New York purple, as in having a winning record against both NY teams.
- Orlando City will lead the league in goals scored.
- Yoshi will win MLS MVP.
- Orlando will go undefeated at home.
- Mueller will score double-digit goals and Sacha will be assist leader again.
- Pinho will have more goals than Dom Dwyer
- Dwyer will win the Golden Boot.
Remember, the writers were asked for a bold prediction, and they certainly came through with some very bold offerings, with none even coming close. I will admit, I was the first bullet.
Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. This is the one common thread that every writer converged on in trying to predict the overall season. A few writers felt that the season would start slowly, but then the Lions would find their stride and survive the summer slump that has classically pestered the Lions since joining MLS. Former Head Coach Jason Kreis was mentioned as finally having the pieces to put forth “his” team and make a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup. I think one writer may have been foreshadowing this season a bit, but may have misinterpreted some of the tea leaves.
Even if the Lions fail to live up to expectations, this should be a fun team to watch
I am not sure fun was the appropriate word while watching this season, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Come February 2019, I can assure you that I will be polling my fellow contributors again. It will be interesting to see how many respondents become jaded, and which continue to look at the state of MLS with purple tinted glasses. A lot of time stands between us and the new season, and even more hurdles stand in front of the Lions. We will get this prediction thing right one of these years.