Oh, Mane Landers, I’m just so excited! The boys are back and if you read my fan post, you already know that my journey into loving soccer was not traditional. This off-season has been brutal as I’ve done nothing but wait for tomorrow. The 90 minutes we get to spend in those purple seats is 90 minutes where everything else just melts away. The stress of work, the anxiety that fills my head all day, and the never-ending to-do lists all get paused while we watch our Lions lay it all out on the field.
Last season I learned a lot. Actually, “a lot” feels like an understatement considering I’ve been consuming nothing but soccer as of late. As a first-time season ticket holder, here are my goals for the season.
I Vow to Trust the Process
This is a couple vows in one, so bear with me. I’m a teacher and librarian and we always talk about how it takes two to three years to truly implement change in our programs. Staffing and student turnover thwarts the process and that must be true with a team that’s trying to rebuild, right? So, I vow to be patient and to trust the process.
This means that I vow to trust Head Coach James O’Connor. He’s worked hard with the front office to build a roster in which he sees the potential for greatness. I can’t imagine he’s signing people saying, “I mean he’s OK.” And I vow to trust and support the new, young talent. They’re fast, they’re talented, and they have so many years to offer to build their skills.
I vow to remember that a team isn’t made of one or two players, but 11 that were selected for a reason. It’s easy to bank on a single player, but when that one player is never found open, or is injured, or is away, then what? What do you do when that one person you were counting on to score can’t?
I Vow to Support the Women
Last season, I only made it out to two Orlando Pride matches. I know, I know, it’s shameful, especially considering I love watching the Pride play. Have you seen these women take a tackle? They don’t roll around hoping for a call; they jump right back up and come back for blood. The Pride literally have some of the world’s most talented players on the team so we should be showing up in droves to support them. I vow to not only show up, but to tune in to more away matches than I did last season as well.
I Vow to Get Over My Grudge
This one is going to be hard for me. I know I said I vow to trust the process, but I had a hard time losing Amro Tarek and Scott Sutter. When I say I had a hard time, I mean I actually went through a mourning process and I wish I could say I was kidding. They were the highlight of so many matches for me, especially during those dark days of summer. It’s going to be hard for me seeing them again as they suit up in different colors to play against Orlando City. I’ll just have to lean heavily on trusting the process and the players we do have.
I Vow to Stay Positive
When it comes to Orlando City, I’m an optimist by nature, but the pace of play got frustratingly slow and sloppy toward the end. When we took our six-year-old niece to her first game, even she was yelling, “Why aren’t they just running their hearts out? They have to run. It’s a running game!”
Additionally, I will admit, it was incredibly challenging to stay positive when we went to the Atlanta United FC game in Atlanta. Getting off the MARTA at the precise moment Atlanta’s supporter groups were headed in was rough. It is really cute though that they’re allowed to decorate the Falcons’ stadium on match days. We must celebrate success when and as we can or it’ll be all too easy to start hating something we love so wholeheartedly. It’s not an unconditional love though — we want our club to love us back. That’s why it’s so exciting that those preseason friendlies have renewed my optimistic outlook and I can’t wait to see what this season has in store. See? Optimism.
I’ve said it before, but loving Orlando City is like being in a committed relationship. It’s magical, can make you feel safe and valued, and can also frustrate you more than anything else! Here’s hoping we can catch a true glimpse of our new team as it opens the season against New York City FC tomorrow at home.
What are your resolutions for the new season? Let us know in the comments below.