Major League Soccer is going through a break because of the Gold Cup and several teams around the league are using their free time to play international friendlies. Teams such as English powerhouse Manchester United, Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt, Wales’ Swansea City and Mexico’s Atlas will all be in the United States facing local clubs over the next week.
Playing international friendlies is nothing new to Orlando City SC as the club has already faced England’s West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City, Sweden’s BK Hacken and Brazil’s Flamengo, Bahia, and Ponte Preta over the last three years.
The friendlies are important to keep the team in playing shape, but they also have pivotal roles in engaging with the fan base and increasing the club’s awareness around the world. With that in mind, here are three suggestions of friendly matches the Lions should try to arrange over the next years:
Corinthians is considered the most popular club in Brazil alongside Flamengo and the team is currently on a very good run of form, leading the Brazilian Championship with a big advantage. Considering Orlando City’s roots and the huge number of Brazilians living in Central Florida, it would be interesting to host Timão in Orlando from a fan base standpoint.
Corinthians’ current roster does not have any international stars, but the Sao Paulo-based club has the legendary Ronaldo as one of its ambassadors and his presence in Florida could do wonders to increase the buzz about the match.
The Mexican team is arguably the best on the North American continent, having played in the last two CONCACAF Champions League finals and in the 2015 Copa Libertadores final. Besides their record, putting an American team against a Mexican side is always a good idea regarding the match promotion.
Tigres has some stars on its roster, such as French striker André-Pierre Gignac and Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas, besides a handful of Mexican internationals that would make the match even more attractive.
OK, this is a long shot, but imagine how awesome would be having FC Barcelona, arguably the most revered and respected club in the world, facing the Lions in Florida. This would be one of those matches that would make a lot of soccer fans around the world know about Orlando City.
It’s hard to envision a scenario where the biggest stars like Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suárez would be on the field, but Barcelona’s emblematic jersey would probably be enough to drag thousands to the stadium.