It was a beautiful day on March 8, 2015. The Florida sun was vibrant, as the heat seemed to be turning up for the first time in the year, with summer fast approaching. Across the street from the Citrus Bowl, people barbecued, wearing these purple jerseys. Everyone was outside, wearing purple jerseys. It was reminiscent of that time when Barney and Grimace took over that 1999 Comic Con convention. In other words, it was like nothing you’ve ever witnessed before in your life. There was purple love everywhere.
62,510 fans showed up that day to witness Orlando City SC draw New York City FC 1-1. Fast-forward roughly seven months, and in their inaugural MLS season, the two sides have finished right next to each other in the Eastern Conference table. Unfortunately for both of them, it’s not in the playoff picture. Even though Orlando City went on a sensational five-game win streak, it turns out, we were right in our prediction that the rest of the Eastern Conference just had it too easy.
With this being said, the 2015 season, and Orlando’s first MLS season, has come to a close. Some Orlando fans will be disappointed with a failure to make the playoffs but as we’ve mentioned before, you shouldn’t be Lions. We’ve watched and covered MLS for a long time. We see the development across the league, whether through fans or the on-field product. It’s easy to say after a year of watching Orlando City that they’re one of the most exciting clubs in the league.
Orlando City SC have averaged the second highest attendance, in the league, in their first season. Their average is an estimated 33,000, whereas the Seattle Sounders drew an estimated 44,000 average. Seattle had the highest average attendance this season as the other newcomer, New York City FC, came in at an estimated 29,000, just under Orlando. Point being, that’s a lot of passionate support from Orlando and Florida’s sports scene. In fact, of the ten major sports franchises based in Florida, Orlando City ranks fourth in average attendance, below the three NFL teams. It’s the base of any successful franchise; both quality and quantity of fans. Orlando City checks both boxes in fashion.
Not only is the fan base impressive, the ownership is as well, which is obviously another vital aspect of a successful club. Construction has begun on their new soccer-specific stadium, which promises to be a state-of-the-art structure. Let’s not forget their near-perfect PR approach, ambition to bring in the best possible players, and the club’s ability to suite, court, and comfort their guests in the best manner they possibly can. The club instills a charming sense throughout everyone in the club. Whether it’s media or fans, the club and ownership are going about it the right way. If you experience it firsthand, you will realize this. So, with that being said, for any soccer fan, sports media member, or even tourist, an Orlando City soccer game is a must. Go to a game. You wont be disappointed.
In other words, do not worry Orlando. You are in good hands. It was always going to be a tough first season, because it was the first season. Now, the best in the business have seen what Orlando are capable of. Watch for this club to make waves this off-season. They are willing to spend and eager to impress. October 25, 2015; we close the doors on the 2015 season. The Lions are no longer rookies and it’s time to usher in their reign, dynasty, and new era of success in Major League Soccer.
Special thanks to:
Orlando City SC ownership, fans, staff, and players
Dustyn Richardson (Total-MLS)
Austin Farrow (2015 OCSC writing and images)