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Orlando City’s 2018 Objectives

The number one goal is to make the playoffs. What else is of importance to the Lions?

MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since Kaká landed in central Florida there is a genuine feeling around Orlando that the Lions are postseason bound. The club went into rebuilding mode this off-season and the 2018 Lions have the most attacking firepower and defensive stability in Orlando City’s MLS history.

The sky may just be the limit this season for Orlando, which has added proven talent and young prospects in a roster overhaul. On paper this team has what it takes to win the MLS Cup this year but with a completely new team that will be difficult.

What are the expectations for the team in 2018? Listed below is what’s expected of Orlando City this season, in order of importance.

1. Make the Playoffs

This is the number one goal of the team. Plain and simple, it’s playoffs or bust this year. Depending on how close to the red line Orlando is, Jason Kreis will not be fired if his team falls short and he will have next year to get there as well. But, ultimately, Orlando City needs to make the postseason in 2018. This is the most important goal and if it is not lived up to the season will be looked at as a failure.

2. Win the U.S. Open Cup

Orlando City is 10-6-1 all time in the Open Cup but has never made it past the quarterfinals. The most memorable moment came back in 2013 when the Lions played Sporting Kansas City and the loanees from SKC, including Dom Dwyer, were not allowed to play. Orlando still found a way to win after an early goal from Long Tan. Last year, Orlando City was on the opposite end of the upset, getting thrashed by Stéfano Pinho and Miami FC.

That is what the U.S. Open Cup is all about. It’s soccer’s version of March Madness and everybody loves a Cinderella story.

But in 2018 the Lions must go all out and try to win it. Kreis will still give some starters a rest and give younger guys like Earl Edwards and Richie Laryea playing time, but it has to be a competitive starting XI. Winning the U.S. Open Cup would put Orlando in the Champions League, which means more revenue and worldwide exposure for the club. Also, its been too long since Orlando City lifted a trophy.

3. Go Undefeated at Home (or Come Close)

Orlando ended the 2017 season with just seven home wins — good enough for third worst in the league — and five home losses — fifth worst in MLS. Additionally, only two playoff teams — the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps — had single digit home wins, both with 9, while no playoff team had more than three home losses.

At the beginning of last year, Orlando City Stadium was a fortress. Nobody was able to come in and beat the Lions in their home stadium. Until somebody did. Then it was all downhill from there. Orlando City Stadium needs to be that fortress once again if the Lions are going to make the playoffs.

The 2016 Colorado Rapids were the last team to go undefeated at home since the 2012 Houston Dynamo. Both teams made the playoffs and both teams had a losing away record. While a losing away record is not ideal, it is extremely difficult to win on the road in MLS and so winning at home must be a priority.