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MLS fans flocking to Citrus Bowl to catch Orlando City Soccer Club

( The following is a story I wrote for the May 30, 2015 edition of Lions Roar, the gameday magazine of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club, exploring the continued support of a legion of loyal soccer fans throughout Central Florida )

You need only to cruise the pavement of Central Florida and tally the number of OCSC magnets adorning vehicles for proof. Or stroll the sidewalks of downtown Orlando wearing the club’s trademark purple and keep tabs on the responses you receive.

It’s as though lifelong relationships are being made by the thousands in 2015.


Whether it’s the club’s work in the community or the inviting presence of its leaders around town, purple pride is spreading throughout the state at an uncontainable rate.

“I remember when we first started going to games and there was maybe a couple thousand people in the stands,” said Randy Badilo, a season ticket holder in section 110 who has supported the club since its inception. “Then at the start of this year we sell out the entire Citrus Bowl for the first game, and it’s been incredible ever since.”

Boosted by home crowds of 62,510 in the club’s MLS debut against New York City FC on March 8 and 40,122 against the defending champion LA Galaxy a little more than two months later, Orlando City is averaging 37,446 fans at home this season compared to an average of just over 20,000 for the league as a whole.


Kaká free kick helps Orlando City Soccer Club draw New York City FC in inaugural MLS meeting

ORLANDO – Fans rose to their feet each time Kaká touched the ball during the Major League Soccer debuts for both the Orlando City Soccer Club and New York City FC.

But it took a little more than the length of the match for locals to get what they came to see at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Kaká delivered a crucial goal, thanks to a lucky bounce, that evened the match after NYCFC took the lead in the 76th minute. Spain’s David Villa set up U.S. national team member Mix Diskerud for a score from the top of the box that put the visitors in front and seemingly ruined the day for the Lions.

But the Brazilian legend tied the match on a free kick in the 91st minute by deflecting a shot off of defender Jeb Brovsky, who provided an otherwise fiery presence throughout the match.


Orlando City Soccer Club poised for grand return to Citrus Bowl

The Orlando City Soccer Club called the Florida Citrus Bowl home for three of their four seasons in USL PRO before spending last year at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.

With an agreement reached late Wednesday between Major League Soccer and its players’ union, the Lions will make a grand return to the Citrus Bowl on Sunday for their first MLS match against New York City FC at 5 p.m.

The club expects 62,000 fans to be on hand for what is shaping up to be the biggest sporting event in the area in recent memory.

The last time OCSC played at the Citrus Bowl – on September 7, 2013 – Dom Dwyer scored four goals and the Lions claimed their second league title in three years with a 7-4 win over the Charlotte Eagles.

The announced crowd that night? A respectable 20,886.


Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Will strike threaten start of MLS season?

The Orlando City Soccer Club is poised to open its inaugural Major League Soccer season on Sunday, March 8 against fellow expansion side New York City FC.

But there’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding negotiations between the league and players’ union that could threaten a big opening weekend for MLS.

Valencia Voice and The Skyboat editor/contributor Danny Morales joined me on the show Saturday to talk about how a player strike might impact the hype locally surrounding OCSC and the start of the MLS season.

Orlando City announced Monday that they’ve sold 60,000 tickets for Sunday’s match at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Soccer Futurist Ted Westervelt talks about state of the sport in United States

The Orlando City Soccer Club opens its Major League Soccer season March 8 after dominating the competition the past four years in the lower-division USL PRO.

That’s if players don’t strike while demanding free agency and fair wages from MLS as collective bargaining conversations continue this month.

On Saturday I was joined by “soccer futurist” Ted Westervelt of Soccer Reform and Pot Hunting on AM 740 The Game to talk about the current CBA situation, the lack of promotions/relegation in the US, and other soccer topics here stateside.

Be sure to follow Ted Westervelt on Twitter and take part in what you love and hate about his opinions. From my point of view, it’s safe to say he’s fairly acclimated to the abuse by now.

Orlando City Soccer Club coach hopes “common sense prevails” in MLS collective bargaining talks

SANFORD, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club’s Adrian Heath awoke this morning to the start of his 37th preseason as both a player and coach as his expansion Lions opened camp for their inaugural Major League Soccer campaign.

With plenty of work to get down during a crucial acclimation process for close to 30 players who are coming together for the first time, Heath is taking an optimistic approach toward the uncertainly that hangs over the start of the MLS season.

While the excitement surrounding the club has been rampant throughout Central Florida, there’s fear that a delay to the start of the 2015 season is a real possibility.


Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City coach offers MLS Cup prediction and forecast on 2015 roster

The MLS Cup goes down this Sunday at 3 p.m. in Los Angeles between the Galaxy and New England Revolution. There’s plenty of star power involved in the matchup, led by Landon Donovan, perhaps the greatest American soccer player of all time, playing in his final professional game.

On Monday Major League Soccer teams will begin submitting their list of unprotected players for the upcoming Expansion Draft as the Orlando City Soccer Club and New York City FC are scheduled to pick through those leftovers on Wednesday.

I spoke with Orlando City coach Adrian Heath earlier this week about his impression of the MLS postseason, and what he’s been doing as of late to prepare for the upcoming MLS drafts and signing periods for the Lions.

(– Click here for J.C.’s story on Adrian Heath’s thoughts on MLS Cup for –)

(– Click here for J.C.’s story on Heath scouting talent for 2015 roster for –)

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club preps for Major League Soccer Expansion Draft

There’s so much to be done before the Orlando City Soccer Club even steps foot on the pitch as a Major League Soccer participant at the start of the 2015 season. Among the many obstacles to navigate is the MLS Expansion Draft on Dec. 10 as Orlando City joins New York City FC in each selecting 10 players from those made available by current clubs.

( – Click here to read J.C.s story for about OCSC preparing for Expansion Draft – )

Orlando City currently has just 10 players under contract for 2015 after defender Luke Boden and midfielder Harrison Heath finalized contracts with the club on Monday. Boden has spent the past four seasons with the Lions while Heath joined Orlando City near the end of the 2014 USL PRO season.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story for about Boden and Heath signing contracts – )

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Prepping Roster For Move To MLS

The Orlando City Soccer Club will join Major League Soccer in 2015 after finishing out their final season this year in USL Pro. While the Lions remain focused on defending their league title, there’s plenty of work being done to ensure the transition to the big leagues goes as smooth as possible.

Orlando City currently has five players under contract for 2015. I chatted with Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath last week about the signings and what they might mean for the club at the next level.

– (Click here to read my feature on Orlando City’s roster for Major League Soccer) –

– (Click here for info on Orlando City’s 2015 signings at Major League Soccer) –