Tuesday night has come and gone as supporters, fans, and friends of fans showed up to cheer on the Lions in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against Atlanta. I’m not one to call Atlanta rivals, but fans of both seem to dislike each other. In the words of The Plain White Tees, “Hate is a strong word, but I really, really, really don’t like [them]!”
I feel like the fact that I wish my life were a musical is starting to show a lot as each weekly feature is posted. Let’s take a look at how fans reacted throughout the match and where we, as fans, go from here.
The sections that were opened for ticket sales were packed and The Wall was so full and alive long before the match started. The highlight of the entire night, in my opinion, was the Kill Bill tifo that seemed to not only wow the crowd, but also the people of Twitter.
The boos started early, the moment Justin Meram first touched the ball, and continued any time there after. There was a very angry man in section 117 who continued to scream his name in a “na-na na-na boo-boo” type way and made his hatred for Meram very clear, gaining an acknowledgement from the Atlanta United forward at one point when play had stopped. I’m pretty sure that man was without a voice Wednesday morning.
Meram didn’t seem too bothered by it and did well through the boos.
The crowd went wild as Dom Dwyer scored in the fifth minute only to be offside. A supporter from The Wall accidentally set off a smoke canister in celebration leading Twitter users to have a pretty funny response.
I feel really badly for the Orlando City supporter that accidentally released the smoke canister before realizing that Dwyer was offsides. Just having to sit there in their cloud of shame. #ORLvATL #USOC2019 pic.twitter.com/942dzwQWZ9— MiazgaTheory (@Miazgatheory) August 6, 2019
Frustration with Dwyer really started to set in around the 19th minute when Nani sent a perfect ball to him and he fired over the crossbar.
It only grew from there to downright anger in many tweets that I won’t share here. Needless to say, the crowd was happy to see Chris Mueller and Benji Michel come in for Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan. Something I still don’t understand is why, when we all saw Mueller get called over and switch jerseys, did the crowd continue to chant, “We want Muller?” I mean wasn’t it clear and obvious that we were getting him?
In the 36th minute Eric Remedi connected on a cross from Julian Gressel to put Atlanta up in the first half.
Dwyer and Kljestan tend to be trashed online a lot as of late, but to my surprise there were a lot of fans on social media seriously disappointed in Nani’s play throughout the match.
Please someone tell Nani to put more effort!! This is THE game #ORLvATL— Andres Calle (@andrescalle78) August 7, 2019
It only fell to pieces for Olrando from there, and the online fan base seemed to get angrier and angrier, as the tweets became more and more aggressive.
Listen, it’s no secret that I love Dwyer. He’s been off this season and I totally get the frustration, but where do we go from here as a collective fan base? Do we hate, trash, and berate the team we love so much?
That can’t be the answer, and while yes I’m striving to stay positive this season, I just can’t fathom how outright hatred for Orlando’s players and team could be a serious reaction for supporters who “bleed purple.” Wouldn’t a better resolution be to analyze trends and figure out why they aren’t connecting or finishing? Wouldn’t a logical response be to throw our support behind the actual men on the field running the 90+ minutes, or behind the coaches trying to get the very best out of them?
A toxic group of fans does not represent us all. As for the “James O’Connor-OUT,” fair-weather fans, get out of here with that. It takes time to implement change. In his season with Orlando, I think JOC has done well to show us a team capable of more than they were last year, and that progress can’t just be tossed to the side. Give the man the time (and please, please, please the money) to get this team where his vision has them.
You may disagree, but as someone that loves this team, supports this team, and finds happiness in this team, my support they’ll continue to have.