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The Long Orlando City Off-Season: “Somehow I Manage”

Emotional phases of the off-season thus far.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It has been 89 days since the last Orlando City match and I’m struggling. With 57 days until the home opener, we are more than halfway through the off-season. I thought the time was going by quickly as we painfully inch toward the season opener, but now it feels like I’ve hit a wall I may never climb.

We’re in this interesting phase of the off-season where the holidays are gone, so we don’t even have that to look forward to as we head back to work for the next long haul. There have been a handful of signings, and we know that Oscar Pareja will be leading the team, but everything else is kind of quiet. I don’t think we’ll really hear much until the preseason training sessions begin.

So where have we been?

Frustration

I think we all came out of the 2019 season frustrated and ready to put it behind us and move forward. After the club announced that James O’Connor was relieved of his duties as head coach, roster decisions were made and fans on social media continued to be frustrated. There was a lot of back and forth on some of the decisions, like losing Cam Lindley and (most notably) Cristian Higuita.

As the rumor mills will, they haven’t stopped churning. It can be frustrating because sometimes those rumors pan out, like the rumors of Oscar Pareja coming to OCSC, but a lot of them just fizzle. While I personally try not to put any stock in rumors until the official announcements come through, it’s hard not to get a little bit excited.

Anticipation

Have you ever watched a baby as you go to tickle them, pull away, and go back in? The anticipation of you tickling them starts to build so much that they start exploding with belly laughs before you even touch them. That’s what it’s like at this point. The anticipation is killing me!

Every time we confirm a new signing I start reconfiguring lineups in my head, trying to get a grasp on what in the world our Lions will look like this season. There’s no shortage on the amount of anxiety that comes with the anticipation.

Hope

Then the hope sets in like it did last season. After the mourning period that comes with losing players — I’ll never get over Scott Sutter and you can’t make me — comes hope that the new players bring a level of play and chemistry that the Lions so desperately need. Hope that a new coach can inspire the attack and bolster the defense. Hope that another “rebuilding” year doesn’t nail the coffin closed on us.

Excitement

As we inch painfully slowly to the home opener, I’m trying to focus on the excitement — the excitement in knowing that we’ll all be back in the stadium and that a new season and new key players does bring hope that something exciting could happen.

The excitement of the new year and new season was sparked for me this week when key members of the Lions took to social media to share that they aren’t waiting until training camp to work out, giving little glimpses at the level of commitment they’re bringing with them.

We’ve seen Nani preparing while on vacation in Portugal.

We’ve seen Dom Dwyer and Tesho talk about smashing workouts.

We also got this sweet thank you with Dom and Jordan from a workout session.

We’ve followed Chris Mueller as he works on his spiritual and mental well-being. With that, we also get to see Sutter troll him pretty hard.

While you can’t see it to look at his feed, Ruan doesn't seem to have taken a day off yet. Seemingly every day he’s posting one of his workouts to Instagram. Instagram stories are only available for 24 hours before they disappear and aren’t shareable, but I’ve seen them, I promise!

So let’s take a moment to check in on each other. Where are you, Mane Landers? Frustration, anticipation, hope, or excitement? If you’re still stuck in the frustration phase, what do you think it will take for it to move on?

I’m not sure how I’m going to make it almost two months, but in the famous words of Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin, “Somehow I manage.”