Down two men on the field – up 24,469 in the stands. The Lions needed every bit of energy they could muster to hold off Chicago on Sunday night; and the crowd certainly did their part.
“The support from the fans was pretty special,” Orlando City midfielder Will Johnson told reporters in his post-match interview. “They understood the situation and how big that point was going to be.”
In a match where seemingly everything was going against Orlando City, the Lions knew they could rely on the crowd for tireless support and boisterous encouragement to get them over the finish line. Drawing against in-form Chicago – all things considered – is a very positive result on the night for Orlando City.
“To be able to get a shutout with eleven players says something, but with nine it’s completely another thing,” Lions head coach Jason Kreis explained. Kreis had nothing but positive words to say about his men tonight. He spoke candidly about the team’s desire, togetherness, and unerring commitment to work as hard as they did and earn this tremendous result against a quality opponent.
When asked about the crowd’s impact on his players’ energy levels, Kreis was filled with gratitude:
“Again, again, and again the crowd is nothing short of fantastic. They should feel as if they’re getting some of these points themselves,” Kreis said with a wry smile. “The effort they’re putting in is quite fantastic. I know I walked off the field sweating and I’m quite certain a lot of the fans did as well. We’re just really appreciative of them and their effort.”
The Lions head coach was probably right. Orlando City fans, led by The Wall, were chanting all evening long. Nobody would be surprised if there was indeed some perspiration going on in the stands.
In the grand scheme of things, Orlando City are delighted with a goalless draw tonight. It feels like a win after two red cards turned the match into an uphill battle for the Lions. The team used every decibel of noise created by the fans and dug deep to earn a point. A point that could be crucial in a tightly packed MLS Eastern Conference.