It’s Avengers Week here at SBNation, and that means I get to write about two of my favorite things. Comics and soccer. If you can’t just have fun with this during a pandemic, when no clubs are playing quite yet, I don’t know what to tell you.
In the comics — or comic book movies — they say a hero is only as good as the villain. Since Orlando City is the hero of our soccer story, which Avengers villains are some of our rival clubs?
Loki - New York City FC
In both Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers’ first foe is is Loki, the god of mischief. When Orlando City entered Major League Soccer, its very first opponent, in the very first regular season match, was NYCFC. The clubs were brought in as expansion teams at the same time. While the Avengers were able to defeat Loki in their first encounter, it felt like Orlando City did the same when Kaká equalized for the Lions in stoppage time. Just like the Avengers and Loki, the foes met many times over the years with each winning and losing. You never forget your first.
Atlanta United - Dormammu
Red, black, seemingly powerful, and has a gigantic head. I’m talking about Atlan...er...Dormammu. Atlanta United FC doesn’t play on real grass, and Dormammu doesn’t live in the real world. Both amassed power very quickly, but ultimately can’t beat the soul of the hero, even when victorious in battle. As much as having the time stone would have been nice in some of the previous matches, ultimately the price comes due, and our heroes will have the victory.
Minnesota United FC - Ultron
Ultron was the creation of Hank Pym and became a major opponent of the Avengers. In the movies, he was built by Tony Stark. He then took programming from Jarvis, and made himself better and better. Minnesota United joined the league, hired Orlando City’s former coach, Adrian Heath, and brought in former Lion Kevin Molino. In many ways it feels like Minnesota United had parts of Orlando City dressed up in a grayish new body, much like Ultron.
New York Red Bulls - Red Skull
The Red Skull was Captain America’s nemesis during WWII, and both ended up in the modern era still fighting each other. The New York Red Bulls are not Nazis. I’m being very clear on that point, but they do represent the older guard of MLS. They are often powerful and menacing, but Orlando has stood toe to toe with the red menace time and time again. Matches have featured plenty of goals, including a barn burner 5-2 win by the heroes back on Sept. 25, 2015. Of course, the fact that seven out of eight letters in Red Skull and Red Bulls are the same doesn’t hurt.
Columbus Crew - Advanced Idea Mechanics
In Marvel Comics, A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) are the evil scientists in yellow beekeeper suits. In MLS, the Columbus Crew are the evil players in yellow that gave us Justin Meram and Kei Kamara. I’m not saying one is worse, but at least A.I.M. was only trying to take over the world. I’m also not saying that the two organizations are the same entity, but you can’t tell me those wouldn’t be perfect uniforms for playing soccer in a pandemic.
I think I’ve done almost as much damage as Thor did to his liver in Avengers: Endgame, so I’m going to stop. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with your own suggestions in the comments below. Lions...Assemble!