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Lessons from My First Orlando City Match

What one Mane Land writer learned from attending his first Orlando City match.

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So you say to yourself, "Self...I didn't make it to Orlando last season for any matches because {insert your reason here}, but this year I'm going to make it. This article is not for those of you that live in the Orlando area. If you live in Orlando and haven't made it to a match, well shame upon your house!

No, this is for those of us that live quite a bit farther away. We're going to cover some important (and not so important) information for attending your first Orlando City match.

Before You Go

This is the boring but necessary portion. Depending on how far you are traveling you'll need the following:

  1. Tickets -- not much point in making the trip without these.
  2. Transportation to Orlando (plane, bus, train, automobile, horse and carriage...just get there).
  3. A GPS, since Orlando is a city with one of the worst roads in the history of roads, I-4. The GPS can be in your rental car, your personal car, your Orlando-based friend's car, or your phone. I'm assuming you are not using Apple maps, since you want to make it to the Citrus Bowl, not the Orange Bowl. Heh...Florida fruit-based stadium humor.
  4. A plan.
The Plan
Depending on the starting time of the match, there is plenty to do. Are you going a few days early, and visiting Disney World or Universal Studios? Are you going early enough to tailgate in one of the lots? Are you hitting one of the official Orlando City pubs for a few pints? Or are you simply going to get there in time for the National Anthem?
Side note: When they play the National Anthem at Baltimore Orioles games, all the fans yell out "Oh!" when the "Oh say does that Star Spangled..." part of the song comes up. I think this is something that we could implement at Orlando City home games. Supporter groups the world around already use many of the same songs and chants, so why not this?
Where are you going to park? How far are you willing to walk? Whatever your plan, give yourself a little extra time. It's your first match, so take the time to enjoy it.

What to Bring
This does depend somewhat on your plan, but there are some things that you should have regardless.
  1. Orlando City gear. This should be obvious, but suit up! At the very least, wear purple!'
  2. Sun protection for day games. This is more important as the season goes on, but even yesterday, it was sunny and a bit toasty. This is especially true if you don't normally live in the Sunshine State, as your delicate northern skin won't be used to being so close to our nearest star. So lather on the sunscreen, you pale sons of guns.
  3. Sunglasses. Yes, I know that could be included in "sun protection," but they deserve their own spot for the coolness factor. Double points if they're purple. Note: may not apply to night games.
  4. Hydration. Just so you know, you can't bring your own drinks into the venue, so drink up before, and be prepared to spend a bit for beers, sodas, and water inside.
  5. Friends or family. If you do come alone, make some friends wherever you're sitting.
  6. Your voice, your spirit, and your pride!
During the Match
Your experience can differ wildly, depending on where you are sitting. If you're near the supporters section, be prepared to to jump, chant, dance, and sing. If that's where you are, you might want to learn the chants before you arrive. Most other seats are going to be a little more that you'll occasionally be able to sit down. It actually becomes more like a Catholic mass in those seats. Stand up, sit down, repeat. Wherever you are, raise your voice and let the players know you made the trip. I happened to be near the visiting fans. Close enough to hear them, far enough away not to be too annoyed. However, as Phil Rawlins has asked, please be respectful of our visitors. Let's not just be the best fans in MLS, let's set a new standard for being classy.

Post Game
You have four choices when leaving the match:
  1. Leave early to avoid the traffic. If you watched the inaugural match last year, or the match against Real Salt Lake yesterday, you know why this is not a good idea. Down 2-0 at the start of extra time, I heard a mother tell her young son, "We don't leave early." That's just good parenting, since shortly after, Orlando City would score twice to save a point.
  2. Sprint through the crowds after the match to try and get to your car to beat the Orlando. Yeah, no point really.
  3. Walk out at a reasonable time with everyone else and accept your fate to be stuck in traffic.
  4. Stick around a bit, and bask in the afterglow of the match. Win, lose or draw, it was your first Orlando City match. Why not make it last a little longer? Don't worry, the traffic will be there when you are finished.
There you have it. Some of this might fall into the "duh" category, but if like me you live pretty far away, a little information can make it feel like home. Vamos Orlando!