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View from the End Line: The Cardiac Cats are Back

Are last-minute heroics something to get accustomed to again from Orlando City?

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I wore all black to the match. I never wear all black, but this last match I did. Maybe it was due to the two weeks of being beat down by the negativity online. Maybe it was due to my own reluctance, my own hesitation regarding how the match would go. Regardless, deep down I was optimistic but it was certainly hard to tell, and I would have had a difficult time expressing it.

For what seemed an eternity, I looked to my friends Eric and Karen on my left, my friend Ryan to my right, and co-contributor Kevin behind me, and continuously made jokes about heart palpitations and how “my heart can’t take this.”

It is something very familiar to the fan base, waiting ’til the last minute to pull some magic out of the hat to make everything worthwhile. It certainly makes for an entertaining match, but dammit, it certainly has taken a few years off my time on this random rock. Was this Saturday the new bar set for the club? Are the “Cardiac Cats” truly back?

In case you aren’t aware, the club has a penchant for the dramatic. All four points the Lions have this season came as a result of a goal that came after more than 85 minutes. For the third time in four seasons, Orlando City opened the MLS campaign with a stoppage-time strike that turned a loss into a draw. Stéfano Pinho’s finish of Jonathan Spector’s timely run and Justin Meram’s gorgeous through ball gave the 10-man Lions a hard-fought point on opening day against D.C. United. Saturday’s winner came in the 86th minute, just minutes after the visiting New York Red Bulls had tied the game.

Taking a quick look back at the past few MLS seasons, it doesn’t take long to find some video highlights where Orlando City left us, the fans, on the proverbial edge of our seats until the last minute. Here are just a few examples:

March 8, 2015: 91’

Who could forget MLS match No. 1 for Orlando City against New York City FC? At the time, this was the deflection heard round the world, a goal attributed to none other than the club’s first captain, Kaká.

May 8, 2015: 90’

Remember that bald defender we all were cursing this past Saturday? Well, he has previously been more than a heel. Aurélien Collin has been a hero.

March 6, 2016: 94’ and 95’

City’s second MLS season started with one of the most insane two-minute stretches to salvage a point thanks to Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter.

May 29, 2016: 94’

Another longtime Lion, Kevin Molino, did his fair share to bring points home. Helping to secure a point away at NYCFC counts in my book, especially in the 94th minute.

April 15, 2017: 91’

Not only did Larin help to secure three points at home against the LA Galaxy, he also got a nod for Goal of the Week. This was after OCSC held the lead from the ninth minute to the 83rd. Walking away with only one point was not an option.

June 17, 2017: 94’

One of the most recent, and suitably spectacular, last-ditch efforts from our very own current captain, Jonathan Spector.

March 31, 2018: 86’

The most recent installment, during an extremely emotional match for everyone, for any multitude of reasons. Scott Sutter and Josué Colmán combined (hahaha) to put in an epic goal in the 86th minute of play. I am positive they practiced that all week in training.

There are certainly more, but these stood out to me. Watching them again, my heart races just the same as the first time. I am not sure my health insurance covers the issues generated if the “Cardiac Cats” are truly back. Hopefully this was just a one off — a ‘two-off’ if you count the D.C. draw — and will not be the norm for the remainder of the season. If this is going to be the new normal, I will be posting the link for the donation website shortly for my new heart because I, like the rest of you, will need one.

My gut tells me this was just first-time jitters. My brain tells me that everything will calm down and get into rhythm starting now, as the starting XI takes its final form. My heart says have another beer and hang on, because we are going for a ride.