Pressure. It’s something that Orlando City midfielder Justin Meram has dealt with all season. After being acquired from Columbus Crew SC, many looked to Meram to help carry the Lions during an injury and suspension plagued early season.
Meram had his looks. Shots off the post, just wide or miraculously saved. His first goal in purple was elusive. Sunday night, against Orlando toughest matchup of the year thus far, he broke through.
A deft touch with his left foot to elude a defender followed by a curling right footer to the far post past a charging Alec Kann. Meram celebrated by placing a finger in each ear.
“It felt good to silence the haters,” said Meram.
It’s easy to criticize and hate. It’s not always easy to be criticized and hated. What stood out about Meram’s scoring drought is that despite the negativity and pressure he was able to be a team player, assisting on 3 crucial goals that would amount to 7 points for Orlando City.
For Meram, it’s not about his scoresheet. It’s about the result.
“At the end of the day I would rather win instead of scoring,” said Meram after the match on Sunday night. “Obviously I want to score and help the team, but I want to win. That’s the main focus of this group.”
Many knew that the goals would eventual come for Meram. Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis had a feeling Sunday night’s match would be the start.
“I’ve really felt like it was coming for a long time,” said Kris. “I felt like [Sunday] would be the night. It was great that he was at the right spot at the right time and was composed to put that goal in. And now he, and we, all need to kick on.”
Orlando City will do just that as they head north of the border to take on Toronto FC on Friday night. Don’t be surprised if, with the monkey now off his back, Meram scores another.