It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor!
The theme song from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood has been perpetually stuck in my head since the release of the trailer for the new bio pic starring Tom Hanks, but it’s fitting after last night’s match. The walk down Church Street just felt so much friendlier after a home win. Here’s a handful of thoughts I had following last night’s win:
The cotton candy sky that served as a backdrop for the win wasn’t the only sweetness at Exploria Stadium last night. The announced attendance was 22,479 and everyone was into the match. The people who sit around us week in and week out are usually less animated than I am, but that first goal from Tesho Akindele in the 13th minute seemed to light a fire under everyone. The supporters kept the chants coming and section 118 was bouncing. Did we need the win? Absolutely, but the win at home was critical for our beloved Lions.
Has the Curse Been Lifted?
Zero is the number of goals Orlando had scored against FC Dallas before last night. Not only did Orlando City score twice on Dallas, but Brian Rowe and his back line helped keep a clean sheet. I’m not saying that the Lions have been cursed when it comes to playing Dallas, but I think you’d have a hard time proving they haven’t been. One could argue that perhaps bizarro Sacha Kljestan (FC Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead) was messing with the timelines across the multiverse. Am I the only one thinking that? I’ll leave now.
But more importantly, I’m talking about losing the lead in extra time. As it always seems to go when Orlando City is up 1-0 in the 90th minute, the fourth official will undoubtedly indicate a minimum of seven minutes of added time, and as sure as rain, seven minutes were added. Now this is typically when the opponent will score in the dying to minutes to rob Orlando City of the three points, but last night it was OCSC scoring in stoppage time to solidify the win. Could this match be the key to breaking the cycle? I sure hope so.
These Lions can Take a Beating
Before Dallas fell behind in the 13th minute, Dom Dwyer had been hit in the head twice — both in the first three minutes! A petty Dallas, down to Orlando City early in that match, started to play pretty rough. The 16 fouls, four yellows, and Will Johnson having been thrown around like a rag doll all support the claim. The difference in my opinion, is that the Lions on the pitch last night got up and tried to keep going instead of rolling around for a bit, even with the lead. A hard shove from behind threw Robin Jansson to the ground unnecessarily as the game was dying down. It went uncalled but was a clear tell of Dallas’ frustration.
I don’t know what James O’Conner is saying in that locker room, but something has seemed to click. Confidence across the starting XI seemed to be at an all-time high. Tesho’s first touches weren’t terrible for a change and Dom looked to be in control of his body and the ball, not to mention that bicycle clearance!
Carlos Ascues tends to grab the ball and panic like he’s not sure what to do with it, but that wasn’t the case last night. He was a menace and didn’t hesitate to take the ball from Dallas instead of watching for their next move. He was all over the place and his goal in stoppage time was just something of which dreams are made, sealing the deal for Orlando.
Ruan played so much better than we’ve seen as of late and didn’t seem to be clutching his back so much. Whatever O’Connor has done to get these guys healthy and confident, please let him keep it up. This was just the burst of positivity the guys needed as they head into the U.S. Open Cup match this Tuesday against Atlanta United.
A New Villain for OCSC
The greatest thing about Orlando City, despite what some outlets will tell you after the MLS All-Star Game, is the supporters. One thing that continues to drive me insane is when a ball goes up into the stands, and instead of carefully passing it back down, someone feels they must toss it and we end up with two balls on the field in the middle of play. FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was also annoyed as he angrily launched the extra ball straight into The Wall. From then on, anytime he touched the ball the supporters booed with extreme aggression. It’s like they all just knew, “This is what we do now,” and it spread from there. You could hear the booing from every side of the stadium. It’s safe to say that he did not make any friends at Exploria Stadium and I’m here for it!
That’s what I took away from this match. What are your thoughts on the 2-0 win over Dallas? I’ll be riding this positivity through my first official days back to work next week. See you all Tuesday!