Orlando City SC winger Chris Mueller has been one of the stars of the MLS is Back Tournament thus far, scoring three goals across two Group Stage games, helping the Lions to wins in each of those matches.
The 23-year-old has been solid in his first two MLS seasons, but at the moment he certainly has the look of a player primed to take his game to another level. Coming off the hot start, the spotlight on him has become magnified, with chatter beginning to surface that Mueller should perhaps be getting a look from the US men's national team.
With more standout play, that attention is only likely to increase, but on a Friday appearance on MLS Today presented by AT&T, Mueller told hosts Susannah Collins and Calen Carr that he's doing his best to stay grounded and focused amid the noise.
"Honestly I’m just trying to continue to play my game and not focus too much on the hype," Mueller said. "I know that nothing’s really happened yet, I just want to continue to play my football and take it game by game. It’s easy to get caught up in that stuff if you read it and look into it a lot and obviously it feels good to score goals and help my team win which is ultimately what I love to do. I think all those things will come in due time as long as I stay focused on the task at hand."
Orlando City still have yet to make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in their time in the league, but with new head coach Oscar Pareja, Mueller said he believes this season could be the dawn of a new era for the club. Mueller credited Pareja for being able to immediately impart on identity and philosophy on the players, which has manifested itself through the Lions' first two games of the tournament, as they've already advanced through to the Knockout Stage with a 2-1 rivalry win over Inter Miami CF and a convincing 3-1 triumph over New York City FC.
"I think that the culture that [Pareja] has brought in, I think all in all it’s just bringing us that confidence and that belief that we can actually do something special and that we have such a good group," Mueller said. "I think Oscar and the whole coaching staff are extremely honed in on what they’re trying to do. They have an identity, they know what they want to implement, and their ideas are good. They know with good players who are focused and bought into the system that we can be successful here in Orlando and I think that’s what we’re showing."