After Kaká picked up an injury just minutes into Orlando City’s season-opening home match, some folks out there started the premature hand-wringing, wondering how the Lions would fare without their superstar. Some folks clearly had not been paying enough attention.
Yes, of course it’s a bummer that the Brazilian won’t be around for a bit; estimates put him out with an injured hamstring for another five weeks or so. But Saturday night’s match, the second of the 2017 season for Orlando City, proved that the guys in purple should be just fine in the interim, thankyouverymuch. Shall we count a handful of reasons why?
MLS vet Giles Barnes brings experience and a cool head to pass on to younger players; you can already see him literally doling out advice to them. Replacing Kaká in the starting XI, he’s already doing pretty well distributing the ball, and made plenty of trouble for Philly, especially in the first half. It bodes well for the near future.
Also, hey, at least one person out there in social-media land thinks this:
Hello, Cyle Larin is the 2015 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year, and followed that up with a smashing 2016. He also scored both of Orlando’s goals on Saturday. He’s already earned “the Canadian Messi” moniker. Is he maybe one of the top five Canadian players ever? How about – for the more breathless among us – one of the best CONCACAF players ever? A little hyperbole never hurt anyone on a Saturday night!
As it turns out, Joe Bendik is a very good goalkeeper. Whatever's going on with the offense, when the defense turns porous, he's there to stop everything. That’s all that needs to be said. Look at this save:
How many times has the guy won our Save of the Week now? Well, he won 11 times in 2016, and one more this year. Will it turn into another this coming week? Maybe! Probably?
Just two matches into its season, Orlando City Stadium is already proving itself up there with other famously intimidating MLS atmospheres, à la Kansas City, Seattle, and Portland. With tens of thousands reveling in purple, the hometown fans looked as ready as they did for their first outing this year.
Not bad, not bad. Orlando, you’ll be more than fine – but you already knew that.