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.
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.
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.
The Orlando Magic beat a team with a winning record for just the fifth time this season when they knocked off Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. On Saturday’s show we talked about where the Magic currently stand while also touching on the recent L.A. reunion of Doc and Austin Rivers, who won two state basketball titles at Winter Park High School. Speaking of reunions, former Magic player Jameer Nelson has been making the rounds as of late in a bit of an unusual way as he’s now with his third team this season.
The Orlando City Soccer Club made it’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection Thursday when the Lions selected Connecticut forward Cyle Larin while UCF forward Romario Williams was taken third overall by the Montreal Impact. We opened the final segment of the show Saturday talking about Major League Soccer before touching on the decision of quarterback Cardale Jones to return to Ohio State. We also shared some thoughts on boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally meeting in the ring.
Were you surprised to hear of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston deciding to enter the NFL Draft later this spring? After winning a Heisman Trophy and national championship with the Seminoles it seems Winston is ready to leave his off-the-field troubles behind in Tallahassee to embark on an NFL career as a likely top pick in this year’s upcoming draft.
Also during the segment was discussion about college football transfers, the Orlando City Soccer Club’s schedule for their first season in MLS, and a good laugh about the starting the lineups of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
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.
When Estrela and Rafael Ramos each earned Major League Soccer contracts with the Orlando City Soccer Club in August the move from Portugal to Florida was made easier because of their existing friendship, forged under the youth soccer system of Benfica.
The 19-year olds played out the final month of the USL PRO season with the Lions this year and joined Portugal’s U-20 national team this month in what’s proved to be a busy stretch away from family and friends.
In just a matter of months they’ll continue the journey when they make their professional debuts with Orlando City as members of MLS in March.
The Orlando City Soccer Club is a long way away from being ready for the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season. Finding MLS experience to fill out the roster is a top priority this offseason as the Lions make a move from the minor leagues to the top division in North America.
Last week I caught up with OCSC general manager Paul McDonough and president Phil Rawlins about the pending acquisition of Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who started in back-to-back MLS Cup matches in 2011 and 2012.
The Orlando City Soccer Club unveiled a new kit for the 2015 Major League Soccer season Wednesday. The club left no stone unturned when designing the new look, which honors its four minor league seasons with several different features. Check out the details in the photo below and marvel at its uniqueness, in all its purple glory.
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.
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.
The Orlando City Soccer Club and its supporters continue to ride the momentum of minor league championships toward Major League Soccer, right into the heart of one of the poorest neighborhoods in town.
On Thursday thousands of fans gathered in downtown Orlando and marched down Church Street to the site of the new soccer-specific stadium in Parramore for a ceremonial groundbreaking. The club pulled out every bell and whistle to ensure the occasion went off in a larger-than-life manner, and it worked with what appeared to be ease.
Orlando City is slated to open its new stadium in 2016. They’ll open their first season in MLS at the Florida Citrus Bowl in March 2015.
As if being a first-time parent wasn’t tough enough, my 22-month old son greeted me with a new surprise in the world of parenting last week while we sat on the recliner together to watch afternoon postseason baseball. I’m still not sure if it was the actual act of puking, or the clean-up that followed, that nearly made me sick to my own stomach.