And cue the “win more matches” chants in 3, 2, 1...
Yes, the absolute objective for Orlando City this season will be to win more matches. The question then become how do you accomplish this? What aspects of previous seasons helped to create the situation that this club is currently in, having never reached the playoffs? Let’s give credit where credit is due, Atlanta United (washes mouth out with soap) has set a very high bar, not just for new expansion teams, but for teams in MLS in general. What are some of the objectives that the Lions should shoot for this season as the club begins another chapter in it’s colorful history?
Scoring more goals doesn’t always equate to more wins. You also need to make sure that you are keeping your opponent from scoring more goals than you. Welcome the lovely discriminator of goal differential. It is quite easy to solve — simply take the total number of goals you have scored and subtract the total number of goals you have given up. As you can imagine, a positive number is better than a negative number, and a larger positive number should also equate to some level of success on the pitch. Since 2015, the inaugural season for the Lions in MLS, the number for teams that have made the playoffs in the Eastern Conference with a zero or negative goal differential are:
- 2015: 1 club with -2 goal differential.
- 2016: 3 clubs with -4, -3, and -10 goal differential.
- 2017: 1 club with -8 goals differential.
- 2018: 3 clubs with -2, -1, and -6 goal differential.
Orlando City has ended each of those seasons with a negative goal differential. The numbers for OCSC are -10 in 2015, -5 in 2016, -19 in 2017, and -31 in 2018. The club was tied for the lowest number of goals scored in the Eastern Conference last season, and we all know about the dubious distinction of number of goals conceded. There is no magic formula here, it simply becomes a team effort to help maximize scoring while working together to minimize goals given up. This should be objective number one.
Defend Our Home
This statement should actually read “Defend the Fortress” as the jersey now states.
It has been brought up time and time again just how difficult it is to win points on the road in MLS. How much of an impact does a club’s home record have? Good thing we have some data to reference. For the 2015 season, the teams above the Lions that made the playoffs had at least two more home wins. For 2016, it was an identical situation, as the teams above the red line all had at least two more home wins.
Ironically, the Lions had a slightly better away points grab in both seasons than a number of teams that finished above them in the playoffs. In 2017, one team finished with two more wins at home, but the majority of the playoff teams had four or more more home wins. Last season, one club had three more home wins, but the majority had five more or better. Home is where the points are, and defending the fortress will be an extremely big part of keeping this group of Lions above the red line.
Get ready everyone for this fantastic voyage. Throughout everything, the Lions will need to stick together, maintain a very tight locker room, and, above all stay, positive. The detractors, trolls, and meme generators will always be here. It is the day and age we live in, and the players, coaches, fans, front office, media, ball boys, beer guys and gals, and everyone who follows this club will need to help focus positivity towards this season.
Players will make mistakes, the club will lose a few matches, calls will not go the Lions’ way, but staying focused on the larger picture of this season being the one positive change — the season of the great cultural shift for Orlando City — will do more to carry this club through the rough patches than anything else could. The 2019 Lions are a mix of youth and experience (and who knows, by the time this is published, even more experience could have been added), and everyone is hungry. The passion needs to be positive and pointed, and that needs to start with the club, and it will, if what the Lions have shown us so far is any indication.
If you have taken time to read this weekly rant, then you know how much of an optimist I am when it comes to following this club. I have become a bit more pessimistic over the years, but only ever so slightly. The winds of change are ranging through Central Florida right now, and bringing with them a clearer picture of the future. The only outstanding question is, will it be today, tomorrow, or the next day? If you ask me, this is the year we see the playoffs, so long as the Lions maintain a clear set of objectives. These are just big picture, simplistic views of what I think the club should be focused on, but sometimes it is the simple things that help make you successful.
And in the everlasting words of Gary Wright:
“I’ve just closed my eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take away my worries of today
And leave tomorrow behind.”