We just went through the process of trying to fill everyone in on the five can’t-miss home fixtures for 2019. Well, we would be remiss if we gave you five matches at home and neglected the away fixtures.
Considering that the Lions will travel almost 40,000 miles this season, it is difficult to travel to away matches, but with modern technology, we can get together as fans and watch the matches from right here in Orlando, surrounded by our family in purple. Here are the five can’t-miss away matches of the 2019 MLS regular season, listed chronologically. Also don’t forget that these matches, when not the Friday night Univision or weekend ESPN match, you can watch on FOX35 or My 65.
Saturday, March 23 at New York Red Bulls
Making New York purple one match at a time. How do you make purple, you ask? Well, you need to smash red (New York Red Bulls) and blue (New York City FC) together. The second of four meetings with the New York clubs, this will be the first against the Red Bulls since their Supporters’ Shield clinching win last season, ironically enough in Red Bull Arena against the Lions, and just the fourth match for this new core of players. The overall series is currently led by NYRB, holding a 5-3-1 record in regular-season play against the Lions. The last two seasons tell a slightly different story as the home team has won each match. This may also be the first time that the club faces former defender Amro Tarek, who was traded to the Red Bulls during the transfer window.
Sunday, May 12 at Atlanta
The first meeting between these clubs in the 2019 season will be in Mercedes Benz Arena, in Atlanta, in May, long before the brutal heat sets in and fans are worried in the giant metal sphincter above them will be opened or closed. It will be a full two and half months into the 2019 season by the time these rivals face off for the first time. As a quick recap, the Lions have yet to win a match against Atlanta United with a record of 0-4-2. This is a rivalry now, and you know the build up to the match will be filled to the brim with anything and everything the fan bases can come up with. Atlanta will be without Miguel Almiron, who took the pitch for Newcastle United for the first time yesterday, but it did pick up a young gentleman by the name of Pity Martinez who could make some waves. This will absolutely be must-see television, and we should know long before the match just how prepared the squad is for the trip to visit our rivals up north.
Saturday, July 6 at Philadelphia Union
Random match right? Well, not really if you dissect the schedule a little bit.
I mean, who programs the schedule algorithm to put five matches in 17 days against three opponents? The good news is that these are all East Coast swings, at the beginning of summer, so one of the only real travel worries is avoiding the afternoon thunderstorm delays coming in and out of MCO. There are three total away matches in this wild section of the schedule, and I picked the last one as it should be the one where the club is most tired and really leveraging depth. Orlando holds a slight edge in the all time series at 3-3-3, going 3-1-1 in the last five league meetings. 2018 saw the Lions win in Philadelphia early in the season, and then draw to the Union at home for the second match. They also dropped a 1-0 U.S. Open Cup match at Talen Energy Stadium last summer.
Saturday, Aug. 17 at Minnesota United
The Lions will travel to face former Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath and former player Kevin Molino in August when they make the trek to Minnesota, but they will also be visiting the Loons’ brand new soccer-specific stadium, Allianz Field. The new home of the Loons is scheduled to host its first MLS match on April 13. This gives everyone plenty of time to work all of the bugs out of everything, including the heated field (you read that right, it is an all-natural grass field that is heated to help maintain the pitch in the harsh Minnesota winters). Let this stand as a reminder to everyone as well, Inchy is undefeated against the Lions since he took the reins in Minnesota, having won both head-to-head matches played to date, including the last match at home in Orlando that saw Ethan Finlay with an early and late goal to give the Loons the victory.
Sunday, Sept. 29 at FC Cincinnati
The boys’ first away trip to face the newest MLS expansion team, FC Cincinnati, sees a trip to a somewhat familiar part of the country — Ohio — but a much different stadium. FCC will be playing at Nippert Stadium on the grounds of the University of Cincinnati while the club’s new soccer-specific stadium, West End Stadium, is being built. It is scheduled to be ready for the 2021 season. There is no history here yet, but being as they are the newest Eastern Conference rival, it is certainly a team to get to know and one that Orlando City needs to win against.
Again, I certainly hope that you plan to watch all of the away matches and take part in the conversation afterwards. Picking from the 17 away fixtures is a bit more difficult than picking from the 17 home fixtures, but this is where my mind sent me. There are certainly a few that could be honorable mentions, like that first away trip to the Columbus Crew to visit former Lions Justin Meram and Joe Bendik, or possibly one the trips to play against those Cascadian teams. The more I pondered the away fixture list, these are the ones I circled most. Do you have other thoughts? Let me know in the comments.