Here we are, right in the worst part of the MLS off-season. Sure, things were pretty awful when Orlando City didn’t make the playoffs and we had to root for other teams, but now we don’t even have that! So, the question is, what is one to do with all this free time?
Other Teams and Other Sports
The obvious answer would be to fill the time watching other leagues, or sports even. As for me and my home, we’ll be supporting Liverpool FC. Perhaps you don’t really watch soccer other than MLS, but now would be a good time to do so. If you’re not sure who to watch, people are excited about Christian Pulisic playing for Chelsea and he’s been on quite a tear lately. If you’ve been missing former Lion, Yoshimar Yotún you can catch him playing for Cruz Azul. You could also watch American Football, if you have six-hour chunks to spare instead of the 90+ minutes MLS has left open on your schedules. Obviously, I’m being hyperbolic, but football games often feel like they last a lifetime.
And don’t forget, there’s another pro team in the area you can watch — the Orlando SeaWolves. Indoor soccer is a bit different, but it’s fast, fun, and inexpensive. Head down to Kissimmee and check out the other local professional soccer team.
We all head downtown almost weekly on match days, so why not head downtown with a different mission in mind? There are so many neat places and delicious eats close to the downtown area. You could head over to the Mills 50 district which is a quick bike ride from downtown, and indulge in Royal Tea mousse milk tea (otherwise known as cheese tea), grab the shrimp bao at King Bao, or be seriously blown away by the size of a slice at Lazy Moon Pizza.
Another fun area to explore is the Baldwin Park area. East End Market has local retailers, artisan bakers, Lineage Coffee, and Domu, a Japanese ramen restaurant, but get there early as tables fill quickly and so does the wait list. There’s also a space in East End that sells plants and can custom plant in your own planters. It’s overall a fun time. Not to mention that Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream is right across the street and that is a stop that is always worth making!
You could head to Lake Eola, walk around taking in the sights and sounds of downtown. Now is the perfect time to head out on the lake in one of the iconic swan paddle boats. I speak from experience when I say, you do not want to go on this adventure outside of our “fall” temperatures.
Play for Fun
There are a lot of opportunities to get out and do something active. If you’re not one for a full-on work out, you could head to Top Golf or Drive Shack. There’s XL Soccer, where you can play a game of pick-up indoor or outdoor soccer, and footgolf at Disney’s Oak Trail golf course, where you can get ahead of the competition and prepare your team for Orlando City’s annual footgolf tournament.
It’s hard to commit to volunteer activities, or additional work assignments that take place on Saturdays or Sundays when the season is in. Now is the perfect opportunity to do some volunteer work! If you’re looking for something fun, and out-of-the-box, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has a fabulous program called “Hound Around Town.” Essentially, you “check out” a dog for a couple of hours to take them for a ride and visit (alliance approved) places to socialize. The best part is that you can share all about the friend you made on social media, letting your friends know he/she is available to be adopted. Not only does it bring awareness to the work the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is doing for the area’s abandoned pets, but you could be the reason these dogs find their next forever homes. This is also a good time to agree to work those Saturday events at work and build some extra credit with your employers, or if you’re not in education, make some extra money to spend on all of the 2020 OCSC merchandise.
Now that we’re in the off-season, we’ll likely see a lot of 2019 season items go on sale. This could be a great time to stock up on spirit wear for yourself, friends, family, or on behalf of Santa. This could be just the opportunity to pick up something for a friend who has never attended a City or Pride match and convince them to come out next season.
Stalk The Mane Land
We just closed out the first transfer window and there was no news for the Lions. We all know there is so much yet to come. So, while I’ll write my pieces, I’ll spend my time stalking the site for the latest updates. Think about it: we’re still waiting for news to break on a head coach and coaching staff. We also know the MLS Expansion Draft will offer Inter Miami and Nashville a chance to add up to five players each to their rosters so we’ll have protection lists and transfer news for that. We’ll have contract status update. Transfer rumors in the transfer windows will be proven and dispelled. There’s so much news to break!
So, while the off-season can be a hard time for City fans longing to be back in the stadium, it can be a great time to remember why we love the Lions and start building our own starting XI as we see new players come and others possibly leave. Let me know how you decide to spend some of your time!