Since Orlando City joined Major League Soccer, it has had a topsy-turvy tenure to say the least. In the stadium, there was and still remains an undeniable culture, passion and style, however it was a slightly different story on the field.
Game in and out, the Lions almost always opted for a less attractive, route-one way of playing that exemplified the side’s pragmatism and insecurity on the ball. Rather than sustaining possession, Orlando typically tried to find an option with a long ball and it rarely amounted to anything. Fast forward to 2019,and Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja is finally bringing some attacking identity, confidence, and fluidity to the team. The Colombian manager has made Orlando City easier on the eye and frankly, it’s about time.
Pareja showed throughout the MLS is Back Tournament that his main goal was to turn Orlando City into an aggressive, attacking side. From start to finish, I had a sneaky and unpleasant feeling that maybe the potent-yet-resilient attacking team that was on display was only performing so well because the proceedings were practically in the club’s back yard.
However, since the regular season resumed, Orlando City has shown that the tournament performance was more than just a temporary red hot run of form that was easy on the eyes. Pareja said he wanted to instill protagonist characteristics on the pitch and he was not lying.
The Lions sit at an impressive third place in the Eastern Conference and are also tied for the third most points in the league. The impressive season is admittedly in large part due to the quality players that make it up, but Pareja deserves all the praise he is getting and more.
Coupled with the strong position of Orlando comes a look of sustainability going into the future too. Pareja has given the Lions a solid and insanely attractive identity. The formula looks as if it could work for the foreseeable future and long-term success is something the club has struggled with for quite a long time now.
Sadly, there have been many times in the past where supporters felt confident after a good string of results, but then a far longer strand of losses followed shortly after, bringing them right back down to reality. Of course, the night is still young, so to speak, so a fall from grace is still possible. That being said, I find myself feeling confident for the future under the jurisdiction of the former FC Dallas coach.
The culture on the pitch is changing at Orlando City and the intensity going forward is finally starting to match the ferocity from the raucous supporters in the stands. The protagonist ideology going forward is also mixed with an undeniable defensive resilience as well. I’m not saying fans should get carried away or anything, but the team is definitely a contender for the MLS title seeing how good it is at going forward and protecting the goal as well.
The future looks brighter than it has for a long time, so , let’s enjoy it and hope it continues for the long run. Pareja is a very loved man in Orlando at the moment. Let’s hope it stays that way.