This coming Friday, the Orlando City Lions have a must win match against New York City FC in the Citrus Bowl. How have the Lions fared this season in Friday matches? Let’s take a look back as we get ready for what we hope is a third Friday victory.
First Friday - Houston Dynamo, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
The first Friday match for the Lions came very early in the season. It was OCSC's second match in MLS, against the Houston Dynamo on March 13, 2015. We all remember Orlando City’s first ever MLS win. The 1-0 win over Houston included a quite memorable goal, too. In the 74th minute, Pedro Ribeiro battled Houston goalkeeper, Tyler Deric while trying to put in a header. It was eventually credited as an own goal against Deric, as he punched the ball backwards into his own net. By the way, it was Friday the 13th!
Second Friday - D.C. United, Citrus Bowl, Orlando
This match was as much a heart-breaker as the first was inspirational. This match had plenty of opportunities for Orlando, and it felt like this would be the first home win of the season. However, despite 17 shots taken, the Lions were held at bay. Then, the unthinkable happened. In the 91st minute, Luis Silva sent a free kick curling into the back of the net, keeping Orlando City from its first home win.
Third Friday - New England Revolution, Citrus Bowl, Orlando
In the third Friday match of the season, the Lions would notch a come from behind draw against the New England Revolution in the Citrus Bowl. After three straight losses, Orlando City found itself down 2-0, until the 75th minute when rookie sensation, Cyle Larin, headed in a cross from Rafael Ramos to get things started. Then, in the 90th minute, Aurelien Collin buried a header to complete the comeback. While this was a draw, Orlando City supporters certainly felt relief and pride that the Lions stopped the losing streak.
Fourth Friday - New York City Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, New York
Months after the last Friday match, Orlando City took full advantage of the opportunity to keep themselves in the playoff hunt. Coming off two wins in a row, and with an important match against Montreal Impact the following week, Orlando made a statement. The Lions dominated the Red Bulls and took all three points, winning 5-2. The importance of this win, along with the win against the Montreal Impact the very next week, kept the Lions in the playoff picture.
Fifth (and final) Friday - New York City Football Club, Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Obviously, this match has yet to be played. Saturday night, the Montreal Impact defeated the Colorado Rapids 1-0. This makes Orlando City's path to the playoffs even harder. Orlando must win their last two matches, including this Friday's match against NYCFC. The Lions will be without Kaká and Brek Shea due to yellow card accumulation. It’s time for the next man to step up and contribute. It’s not hyperbole to say that this is a must win game. Fortunately, Orlando City has won their last four matches. The remaining matches are certainly winnable, and the team is on a roll.
A win on Friday will help to make the weekend that much better! Go Lions!