Orlando City Going All-In On “Playoffs or Bust” Mentality In 2016



For Orlando City, the goal in 2015 was simple: defy expectations and become just the second team in the expansion era since the 2009 Seattle Sounders to make the playoffs in its first season.

The Lions were unable to meet that goal last season, just barely missing out on a postseason berth. Now, as they head into their second season in Major League Soccer, the goal remains the same: make the playoffs — nothing less.

That's the mentality Orlando City has entered this preseason with, accepting that anything short of a playoff appearance in 2016 makes this upcoming season a failure. Players and coaches alike have been sharing this sentiment so far.

Orlando City fullback Brek Shea, who missed a large chunk of the 2015 season due to injuries and national team call-ups, was the first to make the statement when reporting to camp on Jan. 22.

"I think if we don't reach the playoffs, it's a failure in my eyes," Shea said to media members. "I think there's no doubt we have a good enough team, good enough camaraderie and good enough players and staff to get us there."

Adrian Heath, your thoughts?

"No excuses this time, we're fully aware of what's expected." Heath said to reporters after training last week.

"The first thing I said to the ownership group when we had the review at the end of the season was that [2015] was a disappointment," he continued. "There were a lot of positives, but the most important thing for me was the team was capable of making the playoffs, and we didn't."

Even the two new guys, Kevin Alston and Joe Bendik, who will both be competing for valuable minutes this preseason after joining the club in the off-season, understand what the club’s goals are heading into 2016.

“I think it’s a very attainable goal,” said Bendik, who helped get Toronto FC into the playoffs for the first time in club history in 2015. “I was used to it in Toronto, that was our goal every single year, and we accomplished that last year. I saw what it took, the talent, and the hard work it took and this club has the capability to do it.”

Alston, who went to the MLS Cup Final with the New England Revolution in 2014, said "Our goal is to make the playoffs, and that's what we're going to strive for all year."

And one more, just for fun — this coming from starting center back Aurelien Collin: “Whatever happens, we have to make the playoffs.”

So if you couldn't tell, the message is clear: it's playoffs or bust for Orlando City in 2016.


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