Mane Landers, a lot has happened since I wrote the first volume of what I’ve dubbed “The Supporter’s Dictionary,” which covered March and April’s most frequently used words by Orlando City’s supporters. The first edition, in case you didn’t catch it, was an exciting and sanguine piece detailing the woes of March, and then the heights of April as the club was then on a four-match winning streak (that would go on to become a club record six-match winning streak).
The Lions were looking like a strong, dangerous, and deep team, and morale and chemistry seemed to be at an all-time high. Things were grand just a few months ago...but the times have changed.
A search for a new leader ended yesterday, but uncertainty has crept into the squad, and the Lions have lost seven straight league matches. There’s plenty of time to turn things around, and I think a squad with as much veteran leadership as the Lions should be able to do it sooner rather than later, but we’ll get into that in the new months’ dictionaries below.
Before we start, let’s take a quick look back at a pair of March and April’s words to see how they aged:
#KreisOut (March) — At the time, it was crazy (to me) to see and hear the furor of support for the #KreisOut movement, and to be quite honest, it’s still ludicrous to me that he’s gone already. But let bygones be bygones, and this was one that a lot of supporters had right. One has to wonder if the rampant social media campaign against former head coach Jason Kreis swayed CEO Alex Leitão’s decision to make the move, but regardless of where you fall on the topic, he’s gone.
Momentum (April) — This one’s particularly painful to look back upon because the Lions truly did keep positive momentum rolling for a bit there, winning another three consecutive matches moving into May. Unfortunately now for the boys in purple, there’s seemingly negative momentum cascading backwards as the curse of the club’s current seven-match losing streak in league play hasn’t yet been broken. Hopefully we can revisit this one in another two months and the rhetoric surrounding it will be much, much brighter.
Here’s a fair warning, Mane Landers: the negativity is obviously swirling around the club right now. This edition of The Supporter’s Dictionary, specifically in contrast to the previous edition, will be a bit more cynical. There is a feeling of optimism (a word that we’ll talk more about below), but there’s also the stark reality of the emotional impact of a seven-match losing streak in league play, and being one of the most scored upon teams in the league. All right, let’s do this.
Tentative — While the club and supporters alike were riding high in celebration of the Lions’ recent triumphs at the time, there was still a slight trepidation among supporters that things could crumble at any moment. As previously mentioned, the #KreisOut crowd’s presence, despite seeing the club’s success at that point in time, was still in full effect. Murmurs of “this was the easy part of the schedule” and “the Lions have’t played anyone real yet” were still lofting, even if a bit lower and lighter. The month of May began with a 3-1 win against Kreis’ former team, Real Salt Lake, which capped off the club’s record winning streak at six straight. The rest of May? Oh boy. Three straight losses to finish out the month. Not good. At that point, the murmurs were conversational again, and they would only grow as time wore on.
Frustration — To start with the obvious, losing sucks and it makes me feel bad. When I lose under unfair conditions (officiating), it makes my blood boil. Time after time during May’s fixtures, critical and decisive rulings would go against the Lions, usually under highly suspect conditions (truly speaking from an objective point of view). Kreis himself acknowledged that frustration was setting in with his squad and staff due to the inconsistent officiating:
“For me, I’ll say this, and I’ve said it many times, I have to say it again now, because it’s too many games in a row. For me, this team and this club get absolutely zero respect from referees. None. We go to a place like this, every critical decision went Vancouver’s way. Fine. It’s their home field. When are we going to see the same thing in Orlando?”
The frustration wasn’t just happening to Kreis and the squad, but obviously the supporters were not happy with both the treatment of their club’s players, and the placement of their club in the Eastern Conference standings, as evidenced in the May 13 match against Atlanta.
Injury — Unfortunately for the Lions, the injury bug bit one of the club’s stars and leading scorer Dom Dwyer. Dwyer has been ruled out for multiple matches this season, but in May it was due to an adductor injury (a.k.a. the dreaded “lower-body injury). The striker was truly the catalyst to what became a club record winning streak, and his absence was painfully obvious. With Dywer out, the Lions couldn’t put enough balls into the back of the net to earn any points. To make things worse, the club was down multiple center backs.
Optimism — While it’s always sad to see a coach leave, there’s always the impending rush of optimism that comes with the thought of who might be next behind the wheel. Some of said optimism led a lot of supporters to some absolutely insane suggestions (Arsène Wenger? C’mon folks), but there were a few established and renowned names being linked with the club.
Brazilian legends Dunga and Luiz Felipe Scolari had their names whispered to fill the vacancy, and with Leitão and Kaká’s connections, there was no telling how those potential conversations might fall. But there’s some measure of optimism in the air despite the club’s current run of form and I think that’s telling of a strong fan base.
Urgency — Patience was a term that I included in the first edition of The Supporter’s Dictionary, but now I’m adding just the opposite. Things need to change quickly. The supporters and players alike sense the urgency to right the ship, and the longer the club goes without winning, the worse the feeling will become. Hopefully this one dissipates soon, but for now, it festers. The next step is desperation. I really don’t want to add desperation to The Supporter’s Dictionary.
Opportunity — With change comes opportunity. As I detailed in a previous article, the club’s players are all now forced to prepare themselves for a new boss. That means that they’ve got to show new head coach James O’Connor that they belong on the pitch, bench, club, and in his plans. The Lions should be rearing to impress their new coach. It isn’t just the Lions that get an opportunity here though, but the supporters as well. They’re gifted the chance to build a positive relationship with O’Connor, which could assist him emotionally during his first moves in charge in Orlando, a place where your seat is warm before you even sit in it.
What will July and August bring for the boys in purple? Will the terminology continue in a downward trend, or will it ascend into the heights of competing for a playoff spot? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.