The 2108 MLS season has concluded, for Orlando City anyway, and we can all raise a glass to salute the New York Red Bulls as the Supporters’ Shield winners. It was bittersweet to watch the Lions be the team that helped, by losing, to make it happen on Decision Day, but it could have been worse. I mean, the Lions could have finished dead last in the league, right?
With one final month of predictions to review, let’s jump right in and see how well that Eastern European sketchy viewing ball did in its last month of predictions (you read that right, it is being retired this week to the shelf).
Oct. 6 at FC Dallas
Prediction: 2-0 Dallas.
Actual: 2-0 Dallas.
Whoa, nailed it. We all know how difficult road matches are in MLS, and this match was no different for the Lions. The boys were once again shut out — for the fourth match in a row — and play was a bit spotty, especially in the second half. One thing that stood out in this match was certainly an out-of-character performance for Chris Mueller, who had one of his worst outings. Everyone is going to have a bad night, and this night certainly seemed to be Mueller’s.
Oct. 13 at New England Revolution
Prediction: 3-1 City.
Actual: 2-0 New England.
The fifth straight match that the Lions were held scoreless, and another road loss on top of another match with a surprising starting lineup and some key players missing for the typical reasons (international call-ups, suspensions, etc.). This match saw Head Coach James O’Connor line the boys up in a 5-4-1, with Josué Colmán playing as the lone striker. Again, it was another match where the Lions played well in the first half and gave the opposition the match in the second half, with the Revs scoring their second goal just four minutes after scoring their first.
Oct. 17 vs. Seattle Sounders
Prediction: 1-1 draw.
Actual: 2-1 Seattle.
The match that saw the Lions set an MLS record in goals conceded in a season, with two matches remaining. This match stood in fairly stark contrast to most other recent matches in that the Lions spent the first half trying to find their feet and fell down by two goals early, but came storming back in the second and tried to relive those Cardiac Cats moments, only to be thwarted by time. Dom Dwyer’s 57th-minute goal stands as the only goal the Lions scored from the run of play in all of October.
Oct. 21 vs. Columbus Crew
Prediction: 3-2 City, and a lovely tifo.
Actual: 2-1 Orlando.
Three words no wanted to hear before the match: no Justin Meram. At the time, it was reported as a coach’s decision to not have him travel to face his previous team, but we later found out that there was a gentleman’s agreement between teams as part of the deal. Regardless, Columbus came to town, the team that I truly believe is our biggest rival in MLS due to some history, and matched up to the Lions very well in the first half, which ended scoreless. Federico Higuain got the Crew the lead in the 54th minute, but three minutes later Yoshimar Yotún showed everyone just how to take a penalty kick as he brought the Lions even. Fast-forward to the 95th minute, when Mueller was taken down in the Columbus box leading to a Sacha Kljestan penalty kick, closing another chapter in the Cardiac Cats book of lore, and giving the fans who stayed until the final whistle in the last home match of the season something to remember this team by — a win.
Oct. 28 at New York Red Bulls
Prediction: 2-0 RBNY.
Actual: 1-0 RBNY.
With this match just being two days gone, I am not sure there is much to be said that has not already been said here. It was an absolutely gutsy performance by the Lions on the road against a New York Red Bulls team that knew it needed to win to have any shot at winning the Supporters’ Shield. One big thing for me was Adam Grinwis. That penalty kick save against Derrick Etienne is going to be that moment that drives him forward into next season. Also, congratulations RBNY on your historic season, and winning the Supporters’ Shield.
That’s it for 2018, folks. No more matches to predict, but I do need to put together some type of year end, “here is how horribly I actually predicted matches this season” report. I guess I could stare deep into that sketchy crystal ball one more time, and predict that I was about 56% right this season. I guess you will have to wait to see.