Let’s all take a collective deep breath, City fans.
Friday’s 1-0 loss to D.C. United isn’t the end of the world. In fact, the entire game featured encouraging signs for a team that previously struggled to create clear goal-scoring opportunities in its first few matches.
Sounds crazy, right? I mean, how can a 1-0 loss be taken positively at all? Especially for a team that’s used to winning on a regular basis, particularly at home.
But the reality is, the Lions are five games into the nation’s top league with a team comprised of over 20 players who are still getting to know each other - who in fact only started playing together 70 days before Friday’s match. To have five points in as many games is better than what most would expect for an expansion team.
Sure, it’s not exactly “Defying Expectations” but Friday’s match showed that Orlando has the potential to be the free-flowing, high-scoring team many hoped it would be prior to the start of the season.
After struggling to connect well in the final third during the opening fixtures, Adrian Heath’s newly assembled roster was firing on all cylinders against United, creating heart-stopping moments for the 32,000 plus in attendance as each effort rattled loudly off the crossbar, bounced forcefully off the goalkeeper or skipped painfully within inches of the post.
U.S. international Bill Hamid single-handedly kept his team from being down at least 3-0 at halftime with several big-time saves. His stops on both of Kevin Molino’s chances, tipping one off the bar and parrying the other for a goal-kick, were world-class.
On another night, both of those are in the back of the net and Molino is knee-sliding toward the “Wall” as the confetti cannons blast behind the net.
The goals will come.
After striker Pedro Ribeiro went down in the first half, rookie Cyle Larin showed he can compete with the big boys on Friday night. The 19-year-old was thrown into the fire but his size and pace created a host of problems for D.C.’s backline, as he continuously found himself in goal-scoring positions.
Combine that with the return of Carlos Rivas and City has even more pace up front to go along with Kaká and Molino, who looks as if he’s destined to score in bunches after the first one goes in.
Keep calm, Lion Nation. The floodgates will open.