The 2018 MLS season has been a Jekyll and Hyde existence for Orlando City. After a difficult start that saw a draw against D.C. United and a loss against Minnesota United, the team won six straight games. That streak has been immediately followed by a six-game league losing streak, one the team will be looking to break next weekend. The past 12 games have been quite eventful, including multiple positive and negative club records.
Starting with the fourth game of the season against the New York Red Bulls on March 31, the Lions rattled off six straight wins, including two on the road in Philadelphia and Colorado. The win streak is the longest the club has had since it entered MLS in 2015. Going back to the USL days, this was the third time the club had won six straight games, and matched the second highest win streak in club history.
The only longer stretch was in 2014 when the Lions went on an unbelievable run of 18 games unbeaten. After drawing their first two games, they went on their first six-game win streak. That was broken by a draw with the Rochester Rhinos in New York, but immediately followed by the club’s longest win streak to date of eight games.
Another positive club record came on April 21, when rookie Chris Mueller set an MLS club record for the quickest goal by scoring in the second minute against the San Jose Earthquakes. In the history of the club, only two other players have scored in the first minute, both during the USL days. Dom Dwyer, on loan from Sporting Kansas City, scored a first-minute goal on May 4, 2013 against Antigua Barracuda. Kevin Molino equaled that feat by scoring within a minute on Aug. 11 against the Seattle Sounders Reserves. Additionally, three players had also scored within two minutes of kickoff. Demar Stewart was the first to do it on May 22, 2011 against the Harrisburg City Islanders. Kieron Bernard followed suit a year later on July 6, 2012 against the Los Angeles Blues. The first Lion in MLS to score within two minutes was Kaká, who did so on April 17, 2016 with a penalty against the New England Revolution.
While the six-game win streak featured some positive club records to celebrate, the current six-game league losing streak has had some to lament. During the club’s USL era, the Lions had a remarkable record of never losing two league games in a row. In fact, the only time the team lost back-to-back games was in 2012 and 2013 when they lost the league game following their U.S. Open Cup exit. That hasn’t been the case in MLS. The struggles in MLS have included several losing streaks, some extended. Prior to this current streak, the Lions’ longest point drought was three, occurring once in 2015 and once in 2016. The first instance lasted from July 11-26, 2015. The second stretched from Sept. 11-24, 2016. The Lions have now doubled that previous record.
The last three games have been the most difficult to deal with for Orlando City fans, with the team losing by three goals in each game and conceding 11 in total. This is the first time the team has ever lost three straight games by three or more goals, and the 11 conceded is the second most in a three-game span. The Lions lost three straight in 2016 to the LA Galaxy, the Columbus Crew, and D.C. United by scores of 4-2, 4-1, and 4-1. That’s the closest the team has gotten to their most recent record, and still stands as the most goals conceded over a three-game period.
They did concede 11 goals in three games on one other occasion. In 2015, the team conceded five goals to New York City FC, two to the Columbus Crew, and four to Toronto FC. But that stretch did include a 5-2 win over the Crew.
For good or bad, the 2018 MLS season has been an eventful one for Orlando City. The Lions have endured an unforeseen run of games by following an impressive six-game winning streak with a six-game losing streak. Both of these streaks have rewritten the record books for the Lions. They’ll be hoping to avoid any further negative records by ending their current losing run when the Montreal Impact come to town next weekend.