This weekend sees Orlando City fly west to take on the current holder of the Supporters Shield, the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders entered MLS in 2009 and have been touted as the most successful recent expansion franchise in terms of winning record, Open Cup and Supporter Shield wins, and they are crowned by the highest average attendance in Major League Soccer.
The passion for soccer along the I-5 corridor means that playing in the Emerald City at CenturyLink Field can be an incredibly intimidating experience for opposing teams. However, Orlando City fans should not fear, because despite our current slump, Orlando City has fared better this season against Western Conference opponents than our own conference teams, and with Seattle also in a drought (ironic for the state which actually has a microclimate "rainforest"), a trip out west could be just the thing that the Lions need to be revitalized going into the final stretch.
Right now, with 24 games completed, Orlando has 28 points. Only eight of those games have been played against Western Conference opponents, however Western Conference games account for 50% of Orlando's point total this season. Let me just allow that to sink in for a second....
For the conference that is always talked about as being the harder one, Orlando City has put up a better record against Western Conference teams in league play. That statistic alone should bring joy to the hearts of Orlando City supporters. Another statistic that tells you that this weekend is going to be okay: Orlando City has yet to lose when playing away from home against a Western Conference foe.
We went to Houston and got our first MLS win, we went to Portland and quieted the Timbers Army, we traveled to San Jose and got to play in a fancy NFL stadium, and then journeyed to Real Salt Lake -- where Kaká got sent off -- and we still didn't lose!
On top of that this weekend, USMNT bastion and my nominee for "Best Tantrum in Football," Clint Dempsey, could be missing for the Sounders, so add another one in the positive column for a W this weekend.
When you put all this information together, our initial concerns about long-distance travel and lack of home support don't appear to be something that is phasing our lads when they step onto the field away from the Florida Citrus Bowl, and all these factors could come together this weekend to bring three points home to the Sunshine State from the Pacific Northwest for the second time this season.