Orlando City’s Five Game Unbeaten Streak Dies in the North: Replaying Orlando City’s 2017 MLS Season with FM18 (Part 5)
Virtual Orlando City roared into May after a strong April, and for a moment held the top spot in the MLS Supporter’s Shield standings. Everything came undone in Minnesota, as the club faced former manager Adrian Heath and star player Kevin Molino. Despite a red card for Donny Toia, the Lions commanded the first 90 minutes of the match, leading 3-1 going into added time. Then in a series of events that I’ve never seen in decades of playing Football Manager, the Loons scored THREE goals in stoppage time to rob the Lions of all the points. It was absolute madness and Minnesota wrapped up the memorable win 4-3, including two goals for Molino.
Adding insult to injury, it seems our old boss really encouraged his new team on to take us to the woodshed in those last few minutes of the game. Virtual or not, it was a gutsy-never-surrender type win that anyone would put an Adrian Heath trademark on.
On a more positive note, I was able to welcome home a Lion legend in Jamie Watson, who is now a scout for the club. I’m relatively certain that in real life Jamie should be given a front and center ambassador role with the club, but FM18 has no time for that sort of thing, and he applied for the open scout position I have in the game. Hopefully he can help me find the next “Jamie Watson.”
Back on the computer screen field, the wounded Lions were given no quarter as they shifted their campaign across the border to Canada. This it was a close affair, ending 2-1 in favor of the Reds. Here is how March ended up looking:
Despite struggling in the North, the Lions continue a strong start to the season on the play of Giles Barnes, Kaka, Dom Dwyer, and Antonio Nocreino. In fact, the May MLS Player of the Month, and the two runners up were all from Orlando City.
Virtual Orlando looks more dangerous because Barnes and Nocerino are contributing in massive ways, certainly in bigger ways than they were able to in reality. I’ve thought about this a little, and think it may have something to do with their attributes being a bit higher than they should be due to success in other clubs. This seems to also apply to Kaka. Despite what I witnessed in person, with all three of these players struggling to an extent this season, when it comes to a data driven game and players who have in the past been very highly rated, they aren’t going to be downgraded that dramatically just because they are on a subpar Orlando City squad.
Nobody is coming for Cyle Larin
One of the big story lines of 2017 in Orlando was Cyle Larin, but not for his on-field play where he had a very pedestrian season. His DUI arrest made headlines without sinking his personal brand too much. Most of the Larin-based headlines involved the forever looming move to Europe that everyone is expecting. The simulation version of events hasn’t played out that way. FM is famous for large clubs constantly threatening to poach your talent at every turn. The game mechanics can be so aggressive at times you’d wish you could file tampering charges. I’ve lost talented teenagers before I knew I had them in my youth system, I’ve lost resurgent veterans who rehabbed their careers only to demand I accept their transfer to sit on the bench in London or Manchester. In this case however, nobody has even declared minor interest in taking the Canadian over the Atlantic.
While this is a simulation, it leads me to thinking about the media claims that European teams are lining up for Larin to be more fantasy spread by either Larin’s agent, a league eager to produce European quality players, or a media just hoping they accidently create a story through fiction writing. I’ll keep an eye on the Larin thing, but so far all’s quiet on the European front.
Virtual Orlando stands at third in the East behind a logic defying DC United team. The rest of the standings look about right. Here are the standings at the beginning of June.
I hope to have a June update in a few weeks.