Oct. 6, 2017 was a glorious night. Well before the disappointment in Trinidad and Tobago, the USMNT played a World Cup qualifier against Panama. The setting was Orlando City Stadium, and the outcome was magical. The club and city have been lobbying U.S. Soccer for a meaningful game and those efforts were rewarded in 2017, in the form of a prestigious World Cup qualifying match, which is quite a feather in the club’s cap in the first year of the stadium’s existence.
It only took eight minutes for Christian Pulisic to score for the USMNT. He would also add an assist, and Jozy Altidore would score a brace as they led the U.S. to a 4-0 win over Panama. As great as the outcome was, it was the atmosphere created by the stadium and the fans that truly impressed. Former USMNT coach, Bruce Arena felt it was the home field advantage that the team needs when playing in the U.S.
“I would recommend that the next cycle [of qualifying games] we closely scrutinize venues where we are strong in qualifying, “ Arena stated. “And, from what I see, I would come back to Orlando.
“Home-field advantage is huge and every time we create an atmosphere that supports our team in this manner like tonight, it really helps us.”
Arena wasn’t the only one to comment on what a fortress Orlando City Stadium can be for the National Team. It his open letter after the U.S. failed to qualify, Christian Pulisic made a point of complimenting Orlando.
“And I mean, the atmosphere that we had going on that field in Orlando, in that stadium, for our qualifier against Panama … it was unlike anything that I’d ever experienced in the U.S. before. Those fans were unreal — and I was so proud to be a part of that match. It really felt like we were all working together that night to make something special happen.”
It wasn’t just the coaches and players that were impressed. Those that watched on television, or from the stands came away with similar impressions. Our own TheBeardedGuy went to the match and told us how incredible the experience was for him, expecially as his first USMNT match.
So, next year when you’re watching other nations play in the World Cup, and you’re feeling a bit down, take a couple of minutes and watch the highlights from one of the greatest USMNT matches in recent memory. I promise you it’ll bring a smile to your face.
It was a great moment for U.S. Soccer. It was a great moment for Orlando. It was a great moment for Orlando City Stadium. It was a great moment for all of us. And despite the home team not dressing in purple, this event was certainly a highlight of the year for Orlando City SC.
Come back through New Year's Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2017.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2017
10. Orlando City trounces New England Revolution, 6-1.
9. Orlando Pride clobbers Sky Blue FC, 5-0.
8. OCB’s impressive 12-game unbeaten streak through the summer of 2017.
7. Orlando City adds Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter to the defense.
6. Veteran USWNT defender Ali Krieger joins the Orlando Pride’s starting XI.
5. Orlando Pride sign Brazilian superstar Marta prior to the 2017 NWSL season.