I don’t know about you, but I am having a very hard time right now. As I sit in my hotel room over looking the Manhattan Bridge from the Lower East Side of New York City, I am finding that I am a bit lost without some MLS games to watch, more specifically, watching our Orlando City Lions. The weekend should be a time to wake up, throw on purple, contact the game day crew and formalize those plans that culminate in us taking up ranks with the rest of those in Orlando City Stadium or in a local establishment watching along. Thankfully, the void is not so expansive as it seems, and it can be filled to help tide things over until the 2019 MLS season begins. Here are some suggestions, regardless of practicality.
No, I am not trying to convince, or even suggest, you all of a sudden become a fan of American football. What I am suggesting is that you could still be watching soccer (football to the rest of the world).
The MLS season runs almost opposite of the rest of the world, probably due to extreme winter weather and trying to limit the amount of overlap in the season against the other major sports in the U.S. As the MLS season begins to wind down, the rest of the world is getting started. English Premier League, Ligue 1 in France, Serie A in Italy, La Liga in Spain, and the German Bundesliga are just a sample of the the leagues around the world, and ones that have accessibility to watch in the U.S. The EPL and Bundesliga easily come to mind, and are very easy to access as NBC has the rights to air EPL matches across its multiple platforms and FOX has the rights for the Bundesliga. Champions League matches are generally aired here, as are other major matches, both at the club level, league level, and foundation level.
Personally, due to travel and work, I have become a big fan of Scottish Premier League matches. I have posted a few stories highlighting the “you can’t make this stuff up” adventures I have had in Kilmarnock. If you haven’t read them, you can here and here. I will be adding another story about my adventures abroad next weekend as I am leaving for Scotland on Monday. Kilmarnock FC was sitting top of the table until yesterday, suffering a big defeat to Celtic FC in Glasgow, 5-1. To give you an idea of the disparity between the two clubs, Killie’s home at Rugby Park holds just over 18,000 fans while Celtic Park hold almost 65,000 fans. That is the largest football stadium in Scotland, and the fifth largest football stadium in the United Kingdom.
Get out and play. The weather is perfect (at least in Florida it is as opposed to my current situation in NYC, where I am wearing all my clothes at once to stay warm) to be outside, breathing some fresh air and getting some exercise. There are plenty of pick-up matches around town and leagues for all ages and skill levels. You don’t need to be a superstar to get out and have some fun. Grab your kids, introduce them to the beautiful game, and upload those videos of the brutal nutmegs. Take your significant out and teach them football. The off-season is the perfect time to get those around you hooked, and a lot of times that spark can become a raging inferno simply through a bit of fun in the back yard.
Even More Football
With a short drive from the hub of football in downtown Orlando to Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, you can enjoy the newest form of football in Central Florida, the professional indoor kind. The Orlando SeaWolves play in the Major Arena Soccer League, a league that mashes up a bit of hockey with the game of football. It is an extremely fast-paced match, six on six, with the walls surrounding the playing surface fair game to use in passing. You will also see a few familiar faces, like SeaWolves Head Coach Tom Traxler and former Lions Lewis Neal, Luke Boden, Tyler Turner, and Johnathan Mendoza. Boden has had the love of the game re-fired in his heart with this new opportunity. The SeaWolves have a few home matches coming up this month and if you have never been to witness indoor soccer, I would highly recommend it. Did I mention the power plays?
We are approximately three months away from the opening matches of the 2019 MLS season. Although the “silly season” has already begun, we are on the verge of a number of critical dates that could affect the Lions roster:
- Today is the Half-day Trade Window.
- Dec. 11 is the Expansion Draft for FC Cincinnati.
- Dec. 12 is the MLS Waiver Draft.
- The MLS Re-Entry Draft Stage 1 is Dec. 14 and Stage 2 is Dec. 20.
- The 2019 Player Combine is Jan. 3-9 in Orlando City Stadium.
- Jan. 11 is the MLS SuperDraft.
There is so much to help keep us busy during the off-season that no one should be bored. Do you have any ideas? Let me know in the comments.