Tonight, Orlando City makes its first trip to Banc of California Stadium where the Lions will face off with MLS’ newest expansion team, Los Angeles FC. While it’s the first time Orlando City will face an expansion team in 2018, it’s far from the first time in club history. In fact, the Lions have faced off against an expansion team in six out of the club’s eight years of existence.
During Orlando City’s four years in the USL, it played nine expansion sides. The only year where a new team did not enter the league was in 2012, the league’s second season in existence. As the 2011 USL season was essentially an extension of the 2010 USSF temporary division two, the only newly formed teams to enter the league were the Antigua Barracuda, the Dayton Dutch Lions, FC New York, and Orlando City.
During those four years in the USL, Orlando City saw great success against the expansion teams. That’s not surprising considering that the Lions only lost 12 times in 102 games overall. The Lions’ record against expansion teams in the USL years was 13-1-2, with their lone loss coming against Antigua Barracuda in Orlando in 2011. After drawing with the Dayton Dutch Lions, 0-0 on July 8, 2011, the Lions wouldn’t drop points against an expansion team for over three more years, going 8-0 in the process. The final game against a USL expansion side was on July 17, 2014 against the Sacramento Republic, which resulted in a scoreless draw.
While Orlando City dominated USL expansion teams, as it did against most of the league, the Lions’ MLS record is much less impressive. In fact, the club has won just one of its seven games against teams playing their first season in the league. The most memorable of these games is undoubtedly the team’s first ever MLS game, where club captain Kaká cancelled out a 76th-minute goal by Mix Diskerud in injury time to draw New York City FC.
Heading into tonight’s game against LAFC, Orlando City owns a record of 1-3-3 against MLS expansion sides, with the lone win being a 2-1 victory over New York City FC at the Citrus Bowl in 2015. Last year, the Lions faced multiple expansion teams for the first time since 2014, when they faced four during their final year in the USL. Three of those games came against the club’s closest league opponent, with the Lions losing the initial battle to Atlanta United at home, 1-0, and drawing the following two games. Minnesota United entered the Western Conference in 2017, meaning the two teams will battle just once a year. The Loons took the first game between the two, 1-0 in Minneapolis.
LAFC will be Orlando City’s 13th expansion opponent since the club’s inception in 2010, and its fourth one in MLS. The game will be the club’s 24th against an expansion team. The Lions have a good record against expansion teams overall, going 14-4-5, but not so stellar since joining MLS, going 1-3-3. With a new coaching staff heading into the late-night affair in the Golden State, Orlando City will be looking to turn around multiple losing trends.