Orlando City led all teams in the MLS Eastern Conference in total travel miles last season (league play only), and the Lions are set to repeat that feat in their second top-flight season in 2016. Due to Orlando's unique geographical situation within the layout of the league -- Orlando's closest MLS neighbor is D.C. United some 760 miles away, further than any other club's closest foe -- the Lions don't have any short trips on the schedule when they leave the confines of the City Beautiful.
The Lions will play 17 away matches during the 2016 regular season and will travel a total of 39,632 miles round trip in order to do so. The next closest totals for clubs in the East belong to Montréal (34,690) and New England (33,518), respectively, but those clubs are the only others to surpass the 33,000-mile mark in the conference.
The high concentration of teams in the northeast region of the country means that those clubs rack up much lower mileage on their road trips within the conference than Orlando. A team like Philadelphia Union, for example, is only 90 miles away from Red Bull Arena and 103 from the Bronx, so Philly would have a considerably easier time making four trips to play the New York clubs in a season than Orlando will when it amasses over 7,700 travel miles on its four trips to the Big Apple in '16.
The Lions have it relatively easy compared to some of their Western Conference brethren, however, despite those clubs on the Left Coast having neighbors considerably closer.
All five of the league's far west clubs -- LA Galaxy, San Jose, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver -- will rack up over 43,000 travel miles in 2016, with Seattle leading the way at 48,496 miles. Vancouver (47,220), LA (47,086) and Portland (45,636) aren't far behind, with San Jose (43,294) still comfortably ahead of Orlando. All five of those clubs have at least four separate trips that will log over 4,000 miles, while OCSC has only two such trips on the schedule--Vancouver and Los Angeles.
Orlando City will travel nearly a full 5,000 miles shorter than it did last season in its inaugural MLS campaign, but the 5,232-mile Vancouver trip for a July 16 tilt will surpass last season's Seattle trip by 136 miles as the club's longest ever for a league match. The Lions won't make the haul to Seattle, Portland or San Jose as they did last season, and a trip to Salt Lake City is cut a bit shorter this season when OCSC hits Denver instead, but the club will hit LA for the first time on Sept. 11.
As mentioned previously, New York (and New Jersey) will be the Lions' most common destination this season, with two trips apiece to face NYCFC and NYRB, all within the first four months of the season. Orlando only has to visit the house of horrors--BMO Field in Toronto--once this season, but the Lions won't be getting any closer rivals than D.C. United until 2017 when Atlanta United FC joins the league and cuts off the nation's capital by about 320 miles.
Along with Vancouver, LA and Denver, other first-time destinations for the Lions this season include Kansas City and Frisco on return trips after Sporting KC and FC Dallas each visited the Citrus Bowl in 2015.
The shortest distance the Lions will travel round trip this season is 1,520 miles. While the west coast teams cover more distance overall, even they get the occasional short trip that Orlando won't enjoy, as LA and San Jose are a 634-mile back-and-forth trip from one another, Vancouver is only a 500-mile round trip from Portland, and the Timbers and Sounders are just a 288-mile trek in either direction from each other.
Mid-July will provide a particularly tough stretch of travel when Orlando City faces a slate of three games in a 10-day period in Jersey, Vancouver and Columbus between July 13 and 23.
Check out the full away trip mileage table below, and be excited that Orlando City just announced a partnership with JetBlue. It seems as though the Lions will take full advantage.
|Away Trip||Round Trip Mileage|
|New York City FC (March 18)||1,900|
|Philadelphia Union (April 8)||1,706|
|New York Red Bulls (April 24)||1,876|
|New England (April 30)||2,192|
|Sporting KC (May 15)||2,122|
|New York City FC (May 29)||1,900|
|FC Dallas (July 4)||1,938|
|New York Red Bulls (July 13)||1,876|
|Vancouver (July 16)||5,232|
|Columbus Crew (July 23)||1,598|
|Chicago Fire (Aug. 14)||1,966|
|Colorado Rapids (Aug. 20)||3,094|
|Montréal Impact (Sept. 7)||2,506|
|LA Galaxy (Sept. 11)||4,400|
|D.C. United (Sept. 24)||1,520|
|Toronto FC (Sept. 28)||2,100|
|Philadelphia Union (Oct. 16)||1,706|