I was in the stadium in my usual season ticket holder seat for the 1-1 draw Saturday and felt the ebb and flow of the game and, more notably, the crowd. It’s not a secret to anyone that Orlando isn't the most die-hard sports legacy in the country. I’m not saying we don’t have great fans, we do, but it’s not yet at the level of Cleveland, Chicago, or Philadelphia where the fans will always be there no matter what.
That was most prevalent when City went down 1-0. The stadium was largely silent. Even the Purple Wall was quieter than usual. And other than the referee chants — which I think he did a very good job — the energy was that we were right back to where we were last September.
The glitz and glam of all the new moves has all of us excited, including me. But perspective is always key here. Saturday night had five new starters: notably Justin Meram, two rookies in Chris Mueller and Cameron Lindley, and two new defenders to MLS in Amro Tarek and Mohamed El-Munir.
There were plenty of players playing out of natural position. Lindley is an attacking midfielder and was in the No. 6 role, Will Johnson is not a right mid, Yoshi Yotún is not a No. 10, and PC has mostly played defense in recent years. So you essentially had an entire midfield playing out of position.
Even if everyone is healthy and available, adding six or seven new players is going to be difficult. And Jason Kreis had a nearly impossible task as expected starters Sacha Kljestan, Dom Dwyer, Lamine Sané, and Josué Colmán were all unavailable, leaving little in attacking substitution power.
With all that said, I think the result is about as best as fans could have hoped for. Especially considering the Lions were a man down. And kudos to Kreis for staying attack-minded in what could have been a shell of a team.
But even when everyone comes back, we’ll need to take a breath. Don’t get discouraged if the club draws or even loses some early matches. There are going to be growing pains. I believe that City will make the playoffs but I also think it will struggle the first six or eight matches of the season as all these things work themselves out.
It’s a fan’s nature to overreact. We care too much. We have a lot of alcohol fueling us — or at least I do — that causes us to be overemotional. Remember that good things take time and that a resurgence isn't going to happen overnight and there will always be growing pains.
Kreis will need to find the right combinations and formations. Players need to learn each others’ tendencies over time. None of that is created without trial and error. Yes, there will be errors. A lot of them. And that’s fine.
The future is bright for City, but to be cheesy for a moment: Rome wasn't built in a day. Bear with the team as it learns what it is because it’s going to be something great when everything comes together.