We celebrate anniversaries to remember important events that had an impact in our lives. We celebrate hard work, passion, and dedication. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary a few days ago. In 2010, we scrapped our plans for a huge wedding and went downtown to the Orange County courthouse and paid the extra fee so our parents and siblings could still be there with us. After five years together, and with my anxiety, it was perfect for us.
I get a new planner every year and have them custom made to run from July through June to match the academic calendar. The first things I mark are OCSC matches— this is seriously first with little stickers from Etsy — then anniversaries, and birthdays. What about some of Orlando City’s most memorable moments to celebrate each year? I’ve never really sat down to look at the timeline, but it’s always fun to remember certain events as the club shares “on this day” posts.
Here are some of the club’s anniversaries to remember and commemorate.
The First USL Championship
In their inaugural season, the Lions played the Harrisburg City Islanders in the 2011 USL Pro Championship. The Sept. 3 match ended in a 1-1 draw, forcing the teams into extra time, where each team picked up another goal to send the match into penalty kicks. The Lions went on to win 3-2 in penalty kicks, making them the 2011 USL Pro champions.
The MLS Announcement
On Nov. 19, 2013, Orlando City was named as Major League Soccer’s 21st franchise and would go on to debut in the 2015 season. MLS Commissioner Don Garber put it best when he welcomed Orlando to the league.
“We have great confidence in Flávio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and the rest of the Orlando City ownership group. They love this sport, our League and this city. And thanks to the commitment of ownership, the City of Orlando and Orange County, Orlando City will soon have a spectacular new stadium that will provide fans and the entire community with a truly unique downtown sporting experience.”
Ah, remember the downtown sporting experience? Those were the days.
The First MLS Match
On March 8, 2015, Orlando City played its first match in MLS against fellow expansion team New York City FC at the Citrus Bowl. The match ended in a draw, with Kaká scoring the club’s first goal in stoppage time in front of a crowd of more than 62,000. Anyone who was there will never forget the emotion of seeing Kaká rescue that point or the buzz of such a huge Citrus Bowl crowd celebrating the team finally being part of MLS.
The First MLS Win
After the team’s MLS debut, the Lions collected their first MLS win in the following match, defeating Houston Dynamo 1-0 on the road on March 13, 2015. It was a hard-fought battle on the road in Houston and neither team could break through until Pedro Ribeiro forced a Tyler Deric own goal in the 54th minute. Ribeiro, a second-half substitute, pressed high and took advantage of David Horst’s sloppy back pass to create the goal and the Lions earned three points in the top flight for the first time ever.
The Lions Come Home
On March 5, 2017, the Lions played their first match in Exploria Stadium, known simply as Orlando City Stadium back then. The Lions hosted NYCFC again, this time securing the win with Cyle Larin’s game-winning goal in the 15th minute in front of the sellout crowd. The five takeaways from that first match in the team’s very own soccer-specific stadium included the stadium living up to its hype and the defense getting the job done, and our own Michael Citro wrote about the experience of watching the match from the league’s first dedicated safe standing section.
The Running of the Wall
Last but not least, I love remembering that moment on July 10, 2019, when fans in Exploria Stadium changed the rules. NYCFC and the Lions were fighting for a spot in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. It was eerily quiet as supporters held their breath, hoping OCSC could hold out, but a last-minute goal forced the teams into extra time. After 120 minutes of play, the score remained 1-1 and the game went into penalty kicks.
After the coin flip, NYCFC chose the goal at the south end of the stadium where fans were restricted from entering. The Wall refused to accept that ans sprinted from one end of the stadium to the other. Security tried to stop a few supporters before being overwhelmed by the crowd. The entire stadium was alive, and Adam Grinwis stood ten feet tall to deny Maxime Chanot’s shot and lift the Lions to their first U.S. Open Cup semifinal appearance.
Is this the end-all, be-all for memorable OCSC moments? Of course not, just a few of the moments that truly stand out. What Orlando City anniversaries do you remember fondly? Which would you add to your monthly planners? Better yet, were you there for any of these moments? Be sure to share in the comments section.