He joined the team during the summer transfer window in Orlando City’s inaugural MLS season. He’s made 48 appearances for the team since then, and scored his first goal as a Lion a few weeks ago against the New York Red Bulls. For Servando Carrasco, this year is different. Early success in this season’s campaign, combined with a hunger for more, has left Carrasco feeling more at home than ever before.
Carrasco has a healthy skepticism of the team’s spectacular start. They’ve earned fifteen points in six matches, and they sit at the top of the Eastern Conference. They earned their first road win of the season against New York City FC this past weekend. But Carrasco knows that the team needs to keep the momentum going, and focus on continuing that hunger and passion.
“There are definitely signs of progress. But I think we have to be careful of saying we’re there. If you look at the season, we’re off to a fantastic start and now it’s time to build,” Carrasco said. “The main thing for us this past weekend was to get the road win because there was a lot of chatter, there was a lot of talk about how the reason we were climbing the standings was because we had four games at home. But, I think that game was a reflection that we are capable of going away from home and not just getting a point, but actually going for the win. And that’s a reflection of the group. I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence. It’s an exciting time, but I think we have to be careful with saying that we are playing good football. Because the potential is definitely there, but the great thing about the group right now is that yes, we have fifteen points, but guys still come to training eager and we know that we have a long way to go.”
The upcoming month will prove a challenge for Orlando City as the Lions prepare for seven matches in May. But Carrasco said one of the keys to the Lions success has been their ability to speak up and demand more of each other. As long as they keep focusing on the next task ahead, the next training session, the next match, then they can continue their success.
“I think that when you look at the schedule for May, we have a lot of games and we have a lot of travel. So, I think the focus of the moment is to keep improving,” Carrasco said. “Guys come in hungry every day to training and we look at the film and we look at what we’re doing well. And it’s really rewarding when you hear guys speak up and say ‘Hey, this is something that we could have done better. This is something that we can improve.’ I think when you have those voices and when you have that collective agreement that ‘Yeah we have those fifteen points, but we can be much much better,’ I think that’s gonna pay dividends in October and those months. Because no one remembers who is at the top of the table in April. We have to keep that in mind and we have to keep building.”
Carrasco has been with the team for a while now, through a lot of ups and downs. And he has been in MLS for even longer, bouncing around between a few different teams before landing in Orlando. But for Carrasco, this team is where he wants to be and who he wants to be playing for.
“This to me feels like home,” Carrasco said “I really enjoy this team, I really enjoy being part of this club, and there’s something about this club that I feel like I have to pay them back. And that’s my mentality, that’s how I approach every practice, every game.”
No moment displayed Carrasco’s dedication to this team more perfectly than after he scored his goal against the Red Bulls. Carrasco was visibly emotional after the game, throwing the team’s success all to the credit of the fans that continue to support them.
“I just love being part of this team,” Carrasco said. “It’s kind of hard to put into words. I just enjoy coming into work, I just enjoy being a part of this group of guys that wants to do something special.”