The Major League Soccer schedule was announced this afternoon, telling us when, where, and against whom Orlando City will play during the 2021 season. The opening home games were previously released for each team, showing that the Lions will once again start the season at home. Orlando will begin the season at home on April 17 against Atlanta United at 3 p.m. and will travel the following week to be Sporting Kansas City’s opponent for the Western Conference side’s season opener on April 23.
Once again the schedule will include 34 regular-season games for each team — 17 home and 17 away. As one of the 14 Eastern Conference teams, Orlando City will play each of six regional conference opponents three times (18 games) and the seven remaining eastern opponents twice each (14 games). The six regional opponents Orlando will play three times this season include Toronto FC (twice on the road), Inter Miami (twice at home), Atlanta United (twice at home), CF Montreal (twice at home), Nashville SC (twice on the road), and FC Cincinnati (twice on the road). The locations for the road matches against Toronto and Montreal will be determined at a later date and will likely be dependent upon COVID-19 quarantine travel protocols.
As for the regional rivalry matches, the Lions will host Atlanta United April 17 and July 30, and travel to Atlanta on Sept. 10. The Tropic Thunder matches against Inter Miami will take place in Fort Lauderdale on June 25 and at Exploria Stadium Aug. 4 and 27.
Interestingly, several teams Orlando has faced three times in years past — New York City FC, the New York Red Bulls, and the geographically convenient D.C. United — are not among the teams the Lions will play more than twice in 2021.
Orlando will play only two cross-conference games, facing a different Western Conference opponent for each of the two matches. Those teams are Sporting Kansas City at home on April 23 and the San Jose Earthquakes at home on June 22. The Lions will not face expansion Austin FC in the regular season. Orlando will also not get an opportunity to get its first win against Seattle or LAFC in 2021 unless the Lions were to meet them in the MLS Cup final — or in Seattle’s case, in the Leagues Cup.
The biggest gap between league games for Orlando City will take place between the May 29 trip to Red Bull Arena and the June 19 road match against Toronto. The team’s longest home stand is three games against Chicago, Miami, and Columbus from Aug. 21 to Sept. 4. The longest road trip is also three games, when the Lions head to Philadelphia, New England, and Nashville on Sept. 19, 25, and 29.
The Lions will play 14 times on Saturday, seven times on Wednesday, six times on Sunday, five times on Friday, and one each on Tuesday and Thursday. There are no scheduled games for Monday. November has only one scheduled regular-season match, with April having two and June just three. The busiest months are July, September, and October, with six games apiece. August has five, but Orlando will be playing in the Leagues Cup on Aug. 9 — just two days after a trip to FC Cincinnati. Should the Lions advance in League Cup, they could play as many as eight games in September.
Even if Orlando doesn’t advance past the Leagues Cup quarterfinals, September looks to be the most difficult month of the season. Five of the six Orlando opponents made the playoffs in 2020 — MLS Cup winner Columbus, Montreal, Philadelphia, New England, and Nashville. Only Atlanta United missed the postseason a year ago out of the September foes. Four of those six matches are on the road — Atlanta, Philly, New England, and Nashville.
Orlando City will be on at least 10 nationally-televised matches during the 2021 regular season, with matches on ESPN, FOX and Univisión. Central Florida-based fans will be able to tune into all locally broadcast matches on FOX 35 PLUS (WRBW, Ch. 65) or stream them live on the LionNation app with a premium membership. A premium membership is complimentary for 2021 Season Ticket Members, while anyone can subscribe for $59 per year.
To begin the 2021 MLS season, Exploria Stadium will operate at a reduced capacity with guaranteed access for Season Ticket Members and partial ticket package holders.
Here’s a complete rundown of Orlando City’s 2021 schedule:
- Saturday, April 17 vs. Atlanta United 3 p.m.
- Friday, April 23 at Sporting Kansas City 8 p.m.
- Saturday, May 1 vs. FC Cincinnati 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, May 8 vs. New York City FC 6 p.m.
- Sunday, May 16 at D.C. United 7 p.m.
- Saturday, May 22 vs. Toronto FC 7 p.m.
- Saturday, May 29 at New York Red Bulls 1 p.m.
- Saturday, June 19 at Toronto FC 7:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, June 22 vs. San Jose Earthquakes 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, June 25 at Inter Miami 8 p.m.
- Saturday, July 3 vs. New York Red Bulls 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 7 at Chicago Fire 8 p.m.
- Saturday, July 17 at Toronto FC 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, July 22 vs. Philadelphia Union 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, July 25 at New York City FC 6 p.m.
- Friday, July 30 vs. Atlanta United 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 4 vs. Inter Miami 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 7 at FC Cincinnati 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 18 at Nashville SC 8:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 21 vs. Chicago Fire 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 27 vs. Inter Miami 8:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 4 vs. Columbus Crew 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Sept. 10 at Atlanta United 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Sept. 15 vs. CF Montreal 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 19 at Philadelphia Union 4 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 25 at New England Revolution 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Sept. 29 at Nashville SC 8:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 2 vs. D.C. United 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 16 at FC Cincinnati 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 20 vs. CF Montreal 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 24 vs. New England Revolution TBD
- Wednesday, Oct. 27 at Columbus Crew 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 31 vs. Nashville SC 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Nov. 7 at CF Montreal 3:30 p.m.