As we count down to the new year of 2018 – which will be Orlando City SC's fourth in MLS and Orlando Pride’s third in the NWSL – and say goodbye to 2017, it's time to look back at the club's 10 best moments of the year.
Orlando City has won 31 games in three MLS seasons and tasted victory just 10 times in 2017. But none of those wins were any more dominant than the last one of the 2017 MLS season, as the Lions pounded the New England Revolution, 6-1, on Sept. 27. Orlando’s most recent victory in competitive action is our No. 10 moment of 2017.
The Lions were coming off a 3-0 loss at Portland in a game that never felt close, and were just 1-7-3 in their last 11 games entering that late September midweek night at Orlando City Stadium. It wasn’t a sellout, as just over 23,000 came out to see a Lions team that had faded far below the playoff line against a team that had just walloped Orlando by a 4-0 score line only 25 days earlier. Those who did show up got to see an Orlando City side unleash all of its pent-up frustration from the season on an unsuspecting New England side that went down a man early.
Just 10 minutes after video review sent off Xavier Kouassi, Antonio Nocerino got his toe to a Yoshimar Yotun free kick and scored his first (and only, as it turned out) goal as a Lion. At the 32-minute mark, Seb Hines got his first goal of the season off a Yotun corner kick to double the lead. Kaká made it 3-0 in the 43rd minute with a blast past Cody Cropper.
Lee Nguyen’s free kick goal pulled one back just seconds before halftime, but the crowd was buzzing and feeling good about the first half.
Kaká restored the three-goal advantage in the 77th minute, picking up the pieces of an attempted scissor-kick by Dom Dwyer, making it 4-1. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was the final goal the captain would score before leaving MLS and ultimately retiring as a player.
Dwyer took a pass from Cyle Larin and scored his first home goal since returning to Orlando City in the 84th minute, and was so jubilant and relieved he completely forgot to give us his patented flip. The crowd starting chanting “We want six!” shortly thereafter and it didn’t take long for the purple-clad crazies to get it. Yotun collected a pass from Richie Laryea and scored his first MLS goal with a laser shot, also handing Laryea his first MLS assist along with it.
It was an incredible night of catharsis for Orlando City players, fans, and coaches, as the lads in purple ran roughshod over an opponent. The Lions set a new club MLS record for goals in a game and margin of victory in the 6-1 win.
“We were just ruthless tonight. Everything we hit went into the back of the net,” Hines said after the game.
For at least one night, a season’s worth of frustration was forgotten as the Lions showed us how good they could be — even if it was against a 10-man New England side. For that September evening, we all smiled. We celebrated. We felt how good soccer can make you feel.
Come back through New Year's Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2017.