Sitting near the top of section 120 of Orlando City Stadium I thought to myself Thursday, how am I going to be able to write about this for Sunday’s column? The truth is that I, along with my fellow Mane Land writers, have preached patience, contextualized losses, found encouragement in poor games, and contemplated what could have been when poor referee decisions have gone against us. I’ve squeezed the sponge dry when it comes to trying to understand the frustrations of this season.
Walking out of the stadium among the crowd on Central Boulevard towards downtown, I just thought these supporters deserve so much better. I was so impressed with the 23,790 who turned out on a Thursday evening to see their forever struggling club play a team they should have had no expectation to beat. Walking among them I wondered how I could even put this loss into any kind of perspective. That sort of conversation was so many games ago, now each loss is just another jab and punch to the gut.
Dropping my friend off and turning up the radio, I hoped to find some distraction in music. Two songs came on between my buddy’s house and mine. Two songs that coincidently summarized everything I was feeling after Orlando City dropped another disappointing game at home despite playing well and creating a number of chances.
First up, moody Manchester indie-rockers The Smith’s song “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore,” with the memorable chorus of “But that joke isn’t funny anymore/ It’s too close to home/ And it’s too near the bone.” Lead singer Morrissey, in writing these lyrics so many years ago, certainly understood what it felt like to see a ball clank off the post four times in a game, to see calls go against your team in the game directly following a game in Columbus when the referee organization admitted they gave the game and all the points to the opposing team. Guitarist Johnny Marr’s signature jangle soothed my frayed soul as I pondered just how Orlando City dominated a game once again only to lose easily.
The second song to come on my Spotify playlist happened to be a ballad by Americana/alt-country rocker Ryan Adams. In a song most likely written about a slowly fading relationship, it felt like in that car driving down Aloma Avenue, that Ryan had followed a frustrating team too — that he knew what dedicated fandom felt like when things were all going south for the team you supported. Starting with the lines “We belong here, we belong here/ Ain’t nobody that can tell us we’re wrong/ Help me say, say this to you/ I’ll stand by your side, to see you through...” It sounded like something that should be sung from the stands of Orlando City Stadium in support of our luckless and frustrating team. It reminded me how deep my affections run for this club, but supporting the Lions is so hard some nights. The song wrapped up with the chorus of “I love you and I don’t know what else to say” and it felt about perfect as I pulled into the driveway.
Orlando City, I love you but I don’t know what else to say.