Being nostalgic is my worst trait as a human being. And I’m still trying to come to grips with that reality.
So today we take a trip down memory lane, to a land so desecrated and abandoned that its current state is fascinating only for what it once was.
I made a handful of trips to Geauga Lake in northeast Ohio as a kid numerous times in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Wave and water slides are what still stands out to me most. But it appears those good times were expendable as they no longer stand at all.
In 2007 the doors to what remained of Geauga Lake closed forever. Check out this video from DiJi Aerial Media to experience what it looks like today.
( 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.
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.
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.
Don’t feel bad if you missed the final home game for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on Thursday. The amazing ending to Jeter’s 20-year career is most potent in the isolated video clip below.
Jeter’s final at-bat came as it would in a sports film from Disney: Bottom of the ninth, game tied at 5-all with one out and a runner on second. Legend steps into batter’s box at Yankee Stadium for what is likely his final appearance in font of the hometown fans. Then… BOOM! The 40-year old swings at first pitch, sending a liner to right field and scoring the game-winning run.
This kind of stuff doesn’t typically happen in real life.
Orlando City Soccer Club midfielder Kevin Molino added three more goals to his USL-PRO leading total Sunday in a 7-0 thrashing of the Dayton Dutch Lions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The hat trick is the second of the year for Molino and gives him 19 goals on the season.
When Molino collected himself for the post game presser he made it a point to dedicate his three-goal effort to Yordany Alvarez, who after suffering an injury during a game June 7 was forced to retire from the sport last week. The disarming comments made by Molino about his teammate were a change of pace from the typical answers he’s given to questions in the past.
As Molino knows, the games must go on. With just two regular season games remaining the Lions are in position to wrap up the regular season title and earn home field advantage throughout the postseason.
It’s been a week of transition for the Orlando City Soccer Club and its most loyal of fans, the two recognized supporter groups that gather at one end of the stadium each match and lead the crowd in passionate chants.
Last night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney the club implemented stiffer guidelines as they look to adhere to a more formal code of conduct for fans before moving up to Major League Soccer next year.
It was a move that was forced upon the club after Orlando City fans brought embarrassment to the brand last Sunday during a road match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, where four fans were arrested and many others ejected from the stadium.
Was it any coincidence the reports of Ricardo Kaka retuning to Sao Paulo FC, where he’ll play the remainder of the year before joining Orlando City Soccer Club in Major League Soccer in 2015, came out the same week the clubs were scheduled for an international friendly?
While Kaka was back home in Brazil, Orlando City and Sao Paulo played to a scoreless draw. The match came down to Orlando City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo, who made a save in the 90th minute off the foot of Alexandre Pato from the top of the box. It felt anything but routine despite the one-timer being offered up to his chest.
If you’ve been watching the World Cup this month you may remember the impressive day turned in by Mexican goalie Guillermo Ochoa against Brazil during a 0-0 draw in group play. Gallardo, who is of Mexican decent, was asked about the coincidence.
“I’m just happy that Brazilians couldn’t score on Mexicans,” he said with a laugh.