Unfortunately for Orlando City fans the remainder of 2018 has turned into the dull helpless feeling of waiting for a terminally-ill friend or loved one to die. The Lions have squandered their chances to make the playoffs on horrible defense and missed scoring opportunities.
The players seem to have given up on each other (or at least factions within the roster have given up on other factions), and new head coach James O’Connor seems to have little to do but determine which players are going to be coachable and will follow his direction and which ones are too arrogant to believe that anyone can show them ways to improve their game.
Once again, I am reminded of the 2015 season of UCF football and how they wound up going winless for the entire season. That seemed incapable of doing much right, but then two seasons later 51 of the same players from that roster were part of the 2017 undefeated season—a winning streak that has grown to the nation’s longest at 17 in a row now.
I bring up this comparison to remind fans how quickly fortunes can change in the world of sports. If we can purge the toxic elements and complacent attitudes from the locker room in this offseason, Orlando City could become a team that enjoys as much success in MLS as UCF has enjoyed the last two years in NCAA football and without having to wait decades to get there.
But I literally find it painful to watch this team any more this year. To that end, I will be across town tonight at Spectrum Stadium to watch UCF try to extend their win streak against SMU while Orlando City is in Dallas, and I’ll catch up on the soccer score later. I will be surprised if the Lions score and even more shocked if they win. Since we are 15 points out of sixth place, I predict we will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention by the time tonight’s match ends.
I am an optimist by nature, but my optimism has its limits. And as far as Orlando City is concerned, I can’t begin to be optimistic about this team until I start to see what kind of off-season roster changes they begin to make.