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View from the End Line: The New Face of City

The return to roots sets the stage for the 2018 season.

Face of City
Mark Thor/Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

We, as loyal Orlando City fans, have been waiting for this team to #DefyExpectations. This has been a battle cry since the very first season in MLS, but has quieted from the fever pitch of the original years over the tumultuous seasons the club has had. There is no denying that the expectations we all had were based on success from the USL years along with the additions of some key — and world-renowned — players who surely would bring us, the fans, to the promised grounds of the playoffs. We all know the results so far.

This season, the fourth for Orlando City in MLS, will start off with a campaign that was introduced recently, the Face of City campaign. It was hard to miss, with the initial emails and posts looking for fans to submit photos of themselves if they believed that they were — or could be — the new face of what it meant to be a supporter of Orlando City.

Well, that campaign attracted a lot of attention, and families and individuals were asked to come to a photo shoot and bring their A-games in support of the team that they all hold dear. From those photo shoots spawned something that appears to be just a bunch of fans posing and screaming for the camera. What those images show is that it is time for everyone to understand that everything is different now.

This club is returning to its origins, the grassroots that made it what it is today, and the expectations of yesterday need to be put out to pasture. This campaign is all about coming full circle and returning to ask: what are the expectations of this club, and who helps define those expectations? I think we all know the answer.

I can vividly remember the email I received prior to the beginning of the inaugural MLS season in 2015. The front office and marketing groups were looking for some fans to help promote season ticket sales, and they needed a beard. Of course, being as I had one and was a season ticket holder, I thought this would be a wonderful and exciting way to help the club that I had come to love. It was a photo shoot at the Citrus Bowl, now Camping World Stadium, and it was amazing. My mug ended up on a couple billboards around town, and if you dig deep enough, you might be able to find a pic somewhere. It was an amazing experience, and one that I would not soon forget, or at least I thought.

We are all very aware of how the team has performed since entering MLS. Players have come and gone, Orlando City is on its second coach, and even the front office has seen its fair share of change. We, as fans, have spent three seasons — with our hearts firmly beating in our throats — wondering what will happen next. Who will do what next? Are the Lions going to do anything in the transfer window? Does anyone at the club know what they’re doing?

Admit it, these are not foreign questions to any of you. We have all said these things at least once, and in all honesty, that once was probably in frustration on social media. So where does all of this, and my ugly mug, leave us now?

We are on the precipice of a revolution, everyone.

Face of City, the new marketing campaign, is returning the club to a simpler time. It may seem like nothing to some, but to me, this entire effort is to show that the club has listened, the club hears us, and the club knows that the time has come to make some drastic changes.

You will see new faces as the days tick down to the opening match. Mothers, fathers, kids, boys, girls, will all show you just what City means to them, with their faces, their eyes, their body language. If you look carefully enough, you might even see me in a few photos.

Is this a shameless plug for me to point out the fact that once again my image is being used? It most certainly is not. I did not agree to this campaign for the simple two minutes of fame it might bring. I wanted to do this as I could feel the tides changing, the winds shifting around the club. Something was happening — something big — and I had a gut feeling of what it was and wanted to help share my enthusiasm for the coming season.

Before the individuals and families were introduced on stage for the kickoff of the Face of City event, this video played for the crowd that had pilled into Lion’s Pride Orlando:

The video tells you everything you need to know about the passion we all have, the passion that helps drive a team to victory, and the passion we all have that can sometimes spill over into vile vitriol spewed on social media.

I personally believe that the club has not only heard us, but recognized what we were all saying, either constructively or destructively, and taken it to heart. This new campaign is about reviving that grassroots mentality we were all a part of prior to 2015. This club is absolutely #builtnotbought and we, the fan base, can be proud of that. This entire campaign, #FaceOfCity, is meant to remind us of that, bring everything back to that grassroots feel, and return many unspoken things to the supporters that may have been missing.

The campaign is filled with so many beautiful people and families, from all walks of life, creeds, colors, and everything else in between. Fans, like you and I, will be plastered all over the city, and social media, representing that one thing we all hold dear, the OCSC crest. Some of us may be so excited that we scare new players with our enthusiasm.

In the end, this campaign is about one thing and one thing only: a reset. It is about reviving those deep emotions from days past, trumpeting a rallying cry for those who may feel lost, and lighting a beacon for everyone who felt they had been led astray. We have said it over and over for three seasons, but I think we are finally at the a point where this club is about to #DefyExpectations. No, not because the bar has been set so low by previous performances, but because the club is finally coming back to what it once was, a club that’s driven by us, the fans, with all of the power and emotion that comes with us.

The face of our City. #FaceOfCity

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