It's finally happened. After 1,904 days as a club in the MLS, Orlando City SC has clinched a position in the MLS Playoffs for the first time in club history. It didn't happen as quickly as most fans may have wanted. It didn't happen the way most fans would have wanted. But it did happen. Oscar Pareja has led this club into a successful season in only his first year at the club. That being said, what comes next for Orlando City and what can the fans expect?
Well, for starters, they can expect more success. This year has not been a fluke by any stretch of the imagination. Orlando City is currently on a 12 match unbeaten run and has only lost 2 out of their last 20 matches since the start of the MLS is Back Tournament. That is an insane record when you think of all the injuries they have sustained this season. They have seen their starting LB, CB (both of them), RB, CM, CAM, and ST get injured this season and that's without mentioning our GK and CM who went on international duty. Still, with a skeleton crew, Oscar Pareja has managed to get Orlando City to the MLS Playoffs. With players coming in (Aias and Alvarado) and coming back from injury/international duty, the team should get back to full strength just in time for the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, not only have Orlando City clinched a spot, but they are currently in a strong position to clinch a HOME spot come the end of the season. Currently, Orlando City is occupying that last home playoff spot in 4th place and sit 4 points ahead of the 5th place New England Revolution. Orlando City also have a game in hand over New England, but it is a tough one against the Columbus Crew in Orlando. With Orlando fans being allowed in the stadium, the club will want to make sure that they end the season above that home playoff line between 4th and 5th place in the East.
Looking ahead, I believe the fans can expect a run at the MLS Cup Final. It probably won't be this year, but with the moves the front office is making, they look geared to have a crack at the trophy for 2021. Every move the front office has made has been a win-now move. Just look at the profile of all our recent transfers under this front office. Pereyra, Carlos, Urso, Gallese, Aias, Alvarado, Ruan, Jansson, Mendez, Perea, etc. They are putting all the right types of players (age, quality, experience, system-fit) in all the right places. With another transfer window between now and the start of next season, I trust the front office to make the correct moves yet again to push this squad into the MLS Cup conversation.
A message from me to all Orlando City fans: celebrate this year and this achievement like crazy, but be patient. Our time is coming sooner than you think.