We’re almost there, Lions fans! In seven days, Orlando City SC officially kicks off its 2017 Major League Soccer campaign against New York City FC. Besides allowing us to watch the team competing again after four months, the start of the new season also brings huge expectations for a year that can be unique.
The Lions’ ultimate goal is to finally make the playoffs after two years where the team failed to survive through the regular season, but a lot more can be achieved by Orlando City in 2017.
And on the first step, the team will meet a well-known rival, which joined the League at the same time Orlando City did, and has already its place in the Lions’ history. If you still question if the Lions’ season opener will be amazing, here are seven reasons to convince you:
A Brand New Stadium
What could be more exciting for a team than opening the doors of its brand new state-of-the-art stadium? Orlando City’s new downtown home is already considered by many as the best stadium in MLS and, even though the team played Saint Louis FC there on Saturday, this will be the first time the Lions will see official competition in their new house.
It is Already a Sellout
What many already expected has happened and Orlando City’s season opener will be a sellout. With 18,000 season ticket holders and a total capacity of 25,500, that was supposed to happen, considering the fans’ excitement about the club. There won’t be 63,000 people at the stadium, as when Orlando debuted in MLS, but believe me, it will be loud.
Jonathan Spector Debuts
Orlando City fans urged the club to find new faces on the team’s back line after an inconsistent defensive performance in 2016. And they will have it. The Lions made a handful of defensive signings, with the most notable of them being center back Jonathan Spector. With 13 years of experience in England, Spector will debut against NYCFC, and his presence on the team could mean the start of a new era for Orlando City’s defense.
...And So Does Will Johnson
Another important off-season addition is Will Johnson. The 30-year-old Canadian is expected to provide much-needed leadership inside the roster and also to be a box-to-box midfielder for the team. Johnson has the potential to be a key player on Orlando City’s roster with his hardworking style of play.
Those New Kits
Besides new faces, there will also be new kits to be seen in Orlando City’s season opener. The club will play with its recently revealed purple home kits, which have some new features, such as Adidas’ triple stripe in metallic gold across the shoulders, a brand new collar, and the longitude and latitude coordinates of the center of the new stadium (28.5410645°, -081.3890350°) featured on the bottom of the right sleeve.
A Positive Record Against NYCFC
The stage will be set for an unforgettable day, but it could all become irrelevant if the team does not deliver a good result on the field. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be likely when Orlando City faces NYCFC, as the Lions dominate the series against their expansion rivals, recording three wins, two ties, and one loss. The only setback happened in the Bronx.
Cyle Larin Might Score
New York City FC seems to be a special rival to Cyle Larin, as the Lions forward has scored five of his 31 MLS goals against the team. The Canadian striker recorded his first hat trick with the Lions against NYCFC, a team he has played against five times so far.
There you have it — seven reasons Orlando City’s opener in one week could be amazing.