The 2020 MLS schedule dropped yesterday and that means Orlando City’s schedule for next year is now available to dissect. The Mane Land’s Sean Rollins took the time to explore the timing of Orlando’s opponents next year, and now I’m here to take my own look at the most anticipated MLS games at Exploria Stadium next year.
It should be said that this list is comprised of my quick thoughts after the schedule was announced and my five games could very well change depending on how the season actually shakes out. But without further ado, lets get into it.
Feb. 29 vs. Real Salt Lake
While a match with RSL might not jump off the page right away, this one does for the simple reason that it’s not only the first Orlando City game of the 2020 season, but it is Orlando’s home opener as well. Aside from it simply being the first game of the new season, there’s some additional intrigue as well.
This will be the first chance for fans to see Oscar Pareja’s Orlando City side in a competitive match. While the roster still needs quite a bit of filling out before then, it’ll be our first chance to get a look at a team with plenty of fresh faces and a new philosophy. Plus, home games on a Leap Day don’t come around that often, so that’s pretty cool.
April 26 vs. Atlanta United
This game is not exactly a surprising entry on the list since it is the first of two matches against Atlanta. While I won’t refer to it as a rivalry game, it’s a chance for the Lions to get their first victory over a team that’s been public enemy number one in Orlando. Add in the fact that Atlanta beat the Lions in all three meetings last year, including a 2-0 home defeat that sent them out of the U.S. Open Cup, and there is plenty for the Lions to prove in this match. With all of those things in mind it figures to be another intense affair between the two teams, although I do wish that it hadn’t been scheduled for 1 p.m. on a Sunday.
July 10 vs. Inter Miami CF
This is another game that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. While it’s another match that MLS will surely try to bill as a rivalry, I don’t think two teams can be rivals before they play a game against each other. With that being said though, Miami will be the only other MLS team in the state of Florida and an Eastern Conference foe as the Lions aim for the playoffs.
Plus, it’ll be our first look at the Lions’ new in-state neighbors and David Beckham’s franchise certainly has a lot of intrigue surrounding it. Only time will tell if the meeting does indeed blossom into any kind of rivalry, but this will be our first chance to see what OCSC is up against.
Aug. 15 vs. D.C. United
On the surface, this might seem like a rather odd choice for a must-attend home game. But, if you dig a little deeper I think there’s a good case for it. For one, it’s Orlando’s first game after the summer transfer window and could be the first look at any reinforcements the team signs.
Alternatively, it will be the date that the Lions are stuck with what they have and, if the team is in the postseason hunt, then the game could very well represent the serious beginnings of a playoff push. It’s also Orlando’s only home game for the entire month of August, with the prior home game on July 25 against the Philadelphia Union and the next home game occupying the last spot on this list.
Sept. 12 vs. Nashville SC
Not only will this be a chance to see your beloved Lions live after three games on the road, but its another match against a new team. When Nashville comes to town, it will be Orlando’s first game against Major League Soccer’s newest member of the Western Conference. By this point in the season we’ll have a very good idea about what kind of team Nashville is, but it’s always interesting to play new opponents. It’s also the 31st match of the season, so it could end up being a match with big implications depending on Orlando’s fortunes this season.
There you have it, my thoughts on five can’t-miss home matches during Orlando’s 2020 MLS season. Are there any games that you guys think I should have included, or do you agree with the matches I have marked on my calendar for 2020? Be sure to have your say down in the comments below and let us know what games you’re most excited about next season.