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View from the End Line: Checking Back on April’s Orlando City Predictions

Was the crystal ball right or completely wrong about April’s performances? Did it even come close?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Exactly one month ago, I took the bold step to take a look forward and try to predict the outcome of the Orlando City’s April matches. Some of my fellow contributors warned against it, almost snickering in their responses as it was, admittedly, a fairly daunting undertaking.

The Lions had not started the 2018 campaign as any of us had hoped. There were numerous holes in the roster due to injury, fitness, and coming to the team late. The Lions had just picked up their first win of the season, a 4-3 heart attack of a game, and showed off a new playing formation right after halftime by switching to a 4-2-3-1. Several players were becoming available to start, while some would be sitting due to injury.

Lets see how close, or how far, my crystal ball got me to the actuality of April’s Orlando City performance. I can tell you up front: I was wrong.

April 8 vs. Portland Timbers

Prediction: 2-1 Orlando City.

Actual score line: 3-2 Orlando City.

Scoring three goals in seven minutes in the twilight of the match, after being behind for 60 of the first 80 minutes, the Cardiac Cats showed up again for this one. I just remember telling my seatmates over and over that I cannot take a season of this. Orlando City might need to offer supplemental health insurance to fans if it’s going to subject us to another season of this. Unbeknownst to most of us, this was also the match that began the phenomenon of Chris Mueller’s alter ego, Cash Money Mueller.

April 13 at Philadelphia Union

Prediction: 2-2 draw.

Actual score line: 2-0 Orlando City.

City went on the road and won against an Eastern Conference rival. City went on the road, and shut the Union out. Rookie Cash Mueller cemented his place in the starting XI just a bit more in Philly, scoring right before the end of the first half. The biggest takeaway for me was the collective play of the defense, and by defense I am talking of Lamine Sané, Amro Tarek, Mohamed El-Munir, Will Johnson, Cristian Higuita, Yoshimar Yotun, and Joe Bendik. The defensive third players truly stepped up and shut down the Union for a much-needed road win, road shutout, and massive confidence boost halfway through the month.

April 21 vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Prediction: 3-1 Orlando City.

Actual score line: 3-2 Orlando City.

Oh so close on this one. Did you see that historic Mueller goal, or were you still trying to get to your seat? City dominated this match except for those two set-piece goals allowed in the waning moments. It was a fast-paced match that saw a number of firsts, with none more exciting for some than Oriol Rosell stepping on the pitch for the first time as a Lion. Oh yeah, and Dom Dwyer bagged his 100th professional goal, and the Lions maintained their streak of no goals conceded from open play for about three and a half matches.

April 28 at Colorado

Prediction: 3-1 Orlando City.

Actual score line: 2-1 Orlando City.

The most recent match for the Lions, the mile-high trip to Colorado to face the Rapids, was going to be a tough match for Orlando — not only because of the altitude, but also because of the building expectations and being on the road looking down the barrel of May’s schedule. Coming from behind again, but thankfully not quite in heart attack time, the Lions snagged three points on the road for the second time in the month, the first time they have won two road games in a row since 2015. And they did it while leading in critical categories like completed passing percentage and possession.

Here was the conclusion from the April prediction piece:

This is also not, I repeat, not an April fools joke. This team should be building and growing at an exponential pace through April, barring a rash of major injuries again, and the Lions know that they need to acquire points as quickly as possible now before the World Cup begins. Ten points, folks, 10 points is my prediction for April. I’m also going to predict that we see more 4-2-3-1 in April, because it shows itself to work. Bold predictions I know, but that is what this team needs to do in April.

I admit, I was wrong. The Lions brought home 12 points in April, two better than my crystal ball predicted. In cases like this, I don’t mind being wrong at all.

I have made my predictions for May, and they were just as bold. The next few months are going to be telling for the Lions as we approach the summer months where Orlando City has had some bad fortunes in its MLS history. This year will different, I can see it, but I will only look ahead one month at a time.