Now that the 2023 Major League Soccer schedule is out, we know what Orlando City will be up against and when. I’ve spent the last week or so looking over the schedule, planning a potential roadtrip or two to catch some away games, and also deciding which home games I’m most excited for this year. My top three (in no particular order) matches on the 2023 schedule are as follows.
March 15 vs. Tigres UANL
OK, so this one isn’t on the MLS schedule, but it’s on the Lions’ 2023 slate. Orlando City’s first foray into the Concacaf Champions League obviously has plenty of reasons to get excited. While the first leg will have already taken place a week prior to this game, I’ve always felt it’s more exciting to have the second leg of a tie at home. If the Lions come into this game with a good possibility of advancing, then it’ll make an already tense knockout atmosphere even better, and I’m very curious to see how OCSC handles its very first taste of the extremely tricky CCL. Here’s hoping the Lions can bottle some of that U.S. Open Cup magic and transfer it over to continental competition.
April 1, vs. Nashville SC
It was a damn shame that Orlando and Nashville didn’t get to play each other in MLS play last year, because the two teams were beginning to get a real rivalry going during the 2021 season. There was that game on Halloween, when a phantom foul call on Daryl Dike disallowed an Andres Perea winner when three points would have punched Orlando’s ticket to the playoffs. Then, when the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs a little under a month later, Dike got the Lions on the board first, but the men in purple couldn’t hold onto the lead, and slumped to a 3-1 defeat to be eliminated from the postseason. This year though, OCSC got revenge in the U.S. Open Cup by knocking Nashville out in the quarterfinals by way of a penalty shootout. These two teams already have a ton of history between them, and I’m very excited to see a match-up renewed which has the makings of a burgeoning rivalry.
May 27 vs. Atlanta United
Home games against the Five Stripes always make for a big occasion, but in my opinion, this one is a little bigger than last season’s. For the 2022 season, Major League Soccer decided to put Orlando’s home game against Atlanta on a Wednesday, and I’m pretty sure the kickoff time was at 6 pm as well. The result was a stadium with roughly 10,000 empty seats, and while the atmosphere still wasn’t bad by any means, sticking a rivalry game midweek and not even giving people time to get to the stadium after work is just asinine to me. Luckily, that right has been wronged for the 2023 season, and we’ll get to see the two teams face off at 7:30 pm on a Saturday, the way the soccer gods intended.
What do you think of my top three? Are there any games you would have put in instead? Be sure to have your say down in the comments.