As we count down to the new year of 2019 — which will be Orlando City SC’s fifth in MLS and Orlando Pride’s fourth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year.
One of the biggest news items for soccer fans in the City Beautiful came on Sept. 13 when Major League Soccer fulfilled its promise to Orlando and announced that Orlando City Stadium will host the 2019 MLS All-Star Game. The news was first reported back on Aug. 1 by ProSoccerUSA.com but it took a month and a half for it to become official. Nevertheless, it was a big moment for our club and our city.
Major League Soccer’s All-Stars don’t have an opponent yet, but the game will be broadcast on FOX, Univision, TSN and TVA in more than 170 countries worldwide, bringing a lot of attention to Orlando City Stadium. The awarding of the game to Orlando fulfilled a promise MLS Commissioner made to the club and to Mayor Buddy Dyer when the franchise was transitioning to Major League Soccer.
“One of the things we always knew would be an important part of our experience here was to take this team, this purple branding, the great stadium, and showcase it to the world,” Garber said about the formal announcement. “Ownership said to us, ‘When are we going to get our All-Star Game?’ And then I’d see the mayor and he’d say, ‘When are we going to get our All-Star Game?’ And we kept on working to find the perfect time — a time that wasn’t just about getting it done, but a time that assured that the team was ready, the stadium was ready, the city was ready, and the fans really had some hunger for getting behind our league.”
Although this will be the second MLS All-Star Game to be held in Orlando — the 1998 event was hosted by the Citrus Bowl, with the MLS USA All-Stars beating the MLS World All-Stars, 6-1 — it’ll be the first one since Major League Soccer took root here with OCSC and obviously the first in Orlando City Stadium. It’ll be the latest in a string of big soccer events to take place in the venue since it opened in 2017, including:
- 2018 SheBelieves Cup.
- 2017 NWSL championship.
- 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup.
- 2017 USMNT World Cup qualifier against Panama.
- 2017 MLS Combine.
These events were successful and brought some attention to how well the city embraces soccer. The city of Orlando has also made efforts to be a host site for the 2026 World Cup in the unified bid won by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and will host the 2019 Florida Cup in January.
All-Star Week will likely remain a five-day event, including concerts, meetings, press events, activities to benefit the community, and other events, such as the MLS Homegrown Game. And it will be a huge showcase for our city and our stadium. As such, the announcement is quite worthy of inclusion in our top moments of 2018.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2018.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2018
10. OCSC hires Oguchi Onyewu as OCB’s new technical director.
9. Orlando City bolsters defense with Carlos Ascues and Shane O’Neill in the summer window.
8. Orlando City B re-launched as a USL League One side for 2019.
7. Orlando Pride finally beat Chicago Red Stars.
6. Orlando City acquires Sacha Kljestan in a trade with the New York Red Bulls.
5. Orlando Pride acquire Sydney Leroux in a trade from Utah Royals FC.
4. The Pride get their first victory over the defending champion Portland Thorns.