The spreading of the coronavirus around the world has brought the sports world to a near standstill. Most countries have postponed all sporting events, with only a few continuing to play. MLS and the USL announced last week that their games would be postponed for the next month. Given how MLS and the USL Championship just started, this was very upsetting news for fans of those clubs. While live Orlando City soccer might be gone for the next few weeks, there are some games available online that you can watch. Here are great Orlando City games you can watch while waiting for MLS to return.
2011 USL Pro Championship Game
Orlando City got off to an unbelievable start to its existence in the USL Pro during the 2011 season. Led by Head Coach Adrian Heath, the team cruised to the Commissioner’s Cup, finishing six points ahead of the Wilmington Hammerheads. The Lions didn’t let off the gas in the postseason, beating the Charleston Battery in the first round 3-1 after extra time and rolling over the Richmond Kickers 3-0 to reach the championship game. The team was led in those two games by Dennis Chin’s two goals and a goal and two assists by Lewis Neal. The win over Richmond lifted Orlando City to its first championship game and a chance to win the double in its first year. On Sept. 3, 2011, the Citrus Bowl hosted a USL record crowd of 11,220 as the Lions defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders in penalties. You can check out some of the highlights below.
2013 U.S. Open Cup Round of 16
The 2013 season was one to remember for Orlando City fans. Prior to that season, the team had yet to defeat an MLS side in a competitive game. In 2011, the team’s U.S. Open Cup run ended in Texas as the Lions lost to FC Dallas 3-2. A year later, they fell in Kansas when the team lost to the eventual champions, Sporting Kansas City, by the same score. But 2013 was a different year. A 2-1 win over the Ocala Stampede allowed the team to host the next round against the Colorado Rapids. An early goal by Bryan Burke was followed up by a brace by on-loan striker Dom Dwyer in a 3-1 win, the club’s first over an MLS side in a competitive game.
The next game featured the Lions on the road to face Sporting Kansas City. The game started incredibly for the Lions, with Adama Mbengue assisting on a Long Tan goal in the second minute. The third-division side then defended for 88 minutes to reach the Open Cup quarterfinals for the first time in club history, holding on for the 1-0 win.
Game link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGXmTH8yUvk
2013 USL Pro Championship Game
If there’s one game that Orlando City fans can point to that lifted the club to the next level, it’s usually the 2013 USL Pro Championship Game. After winning the double in 2011 and retaining the Commissioner’s Cup in 2012, the Lions lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Wilmington Hammerheads. The rallying cry from that loss through the 2013 USL Pro season was: “We want our cup back!”
A season-long battle for the top of the table with the Richmond Kickers saw Orlando City finish second in the league. However, the Kickers were upset by the Charlotte Eagles in the playoff semifinals, providing an opportunity for the Lions to host every playoff game. Orlando City’s path to the championship game started with a 5-0 thumping of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds before narrowly defeating the Charleston Battery 3-2, despite going up 3-0 within 20 minutes.
That win meant the Lions hosted the USL Pro Championship Game at the Citrus Bowl. Adding more excitement to the game, Sporting Kansas City agreed to allow Dwyer to return to Central Florida after he was recalled earlier that season. Dwyer had an astounding season for the Lions, scoring 15 goals in 13 league games and another three in the Open Cup. His return didn’t disappoint, as the striker netted the first four goals in a 7-4 City win. As it did in 2011, the club also set a new USL attendance record, as 20,886 fans packed the lower bowl.
2015 U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round
The 2015 MLS season provided a ton of firsts for Orlando City: its first game, its first win, and its first Open Cup as a first division side. That first game came in the fourth round in South Carolina as the Lions went up against an old foe, the Charleston Battery. It was a remarkable game that saw Carlos Rivas score a hat trick of penalties during the first 120 minutes. When penalties came, it took 10 shots per side to finally decide who would move on to the next round. In the end, it was Orlando City that came out victorious, winning 8-7 in attempts from the spot.
While we wait for professional soccer in the United States to kick off again, it’s worth a look back at these classic Orlando City games. If you weren’t yet a fan during that era, it’s a good look back at some historic club moments and you can become familiar with some of the players who paved the way for the Lions to make the jump to MLS.
What are some of your favorite moments from these memorable matches? Are there any other games you’ve found online that you like to watch? Let us know in the comments below.