Orlando City defeated D.C. United 4-2 Sunday evening in what was the final Orlando City game to be played at the venue we should still be calling the Citrus Bowl. The final whistle signaled the end of an era as Orlando City said goodbye to the building that served as the club's home for five of its first six seasons. Here are our top five Orlando City games that occurred in the Citrus Bowl during those five years.
2011 USL Pro Championship Game
In the game that club Founder and President Phil Rawlins calls his favorite game, Orlando City finished off its inaugural season by defeating the Harrisburg City Islanders in penalties to capture the 2011 USL Pro championship. The win sealed the double after the Lions had won the Commissioner's Cup as the team with the highest point total in the league.
The Lions played much of the match down to 10 men after starting goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo was sent off in the 48th minute, opening the door for backup goalkeeper Sean Kelley to come on and become the unlikely hero. Orlando City appeared to have won the game in the 89th minute with a goal by Lawrence Olum, but its lead was erased five minutes into injury time by J.T. Noone. In the first period of extra time, Sainey Touray appeared to have grabbed the trophy for the visitors, only to see Lewis Neal convert from the spot as time wound down. In penalties, it was all Kelley as the young goalkeeper saved three of the five spot kicks to earn Orlando City its first league championship.
2013 USL Pro Championship Game
While the 2011 USL Pro Championship was Rawlins' favorite game, others would claim it to be the 2013 USL Pro Championship. After scoring an astounding 15 goals in 13 league games while on loan from Sporting Kansas City, Dom Dwyer was brought back for one last hurrah in the City Beautiful. His swift return to the Midwest didn't allow Orlando City fans to say goodbye but this one-off game would allow both player and fans the appropriate exit. Dwyer converted four goals in the game in an 11-goal thriller that saw the Lions win 7-4 for their second league championship in three years. Hometown hero Dennis Chin converted a brace of his own, which included a 90th-minute goal that really put the final nail in the Charlotte Eagles' coffin.
2015 MLS Opening Game
In front of a sold-out crowd of 62,500 in the newly renovated Citrus Bowl, Orlando City opened its inaugural MLS campaign in 2015 by drawing fellow MLS entrants New York City FC, 1-1. The close match-up between the two expansion sides was tipped toward the away team when NYCFC's Mix Diskerud gave the visitors the 1-0 lead. The task of gaining at least a point became even more difficult in the 83rd minute when defender Aurelien Collin was issued a straight red card for what was deemed a vicious foul on David Villa. But it was Orlando City's marquee signing that saved the day, as Kaká converted a free kick in stoppage time. Despite a deflection by Jeb Brovsky that aided the goal, it was a historic point in the club's first ever MLS regular season game.
2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 3rd Round
While Orlando City's first MLS win would come in Houston in 2015, the club’s first win over an MLS team in competitive play actually occurred in the third round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. While the Colorado Rapids did bring a reserve-laden side, an early goal by Bryan Burke and a Dom Dwyer brace secured advancement into the fourth round and the club's first win over an MLS team in competitive play.
2011 First Ever Game
While not as important as others, as a preseason game, Orlando City's first ever game was held at the Citrus Bowl against the MLS side Philadelphia Union. Lewis Neal struck in the 19th minute to give the Lions a lead they would not relinquish, officially kicking off the club's ambitious journey toward the MLS.
These are our top five Orlando City games at the Citrus Bowl. Do you agree with us or are there other games you would add? Let us know in the comments below.