Orlando City Off to Hot Start In 2017
In their third season as a member of Major League Soccer, Orlando City Soccer Club kicked off the 2017 campaign with their best foot forward. Following back-to-back seasons without a playoff appearance, the Lions knew that expectations were high entering the season. A new coach, a couple of key roster changes, and a beautiful new home stadium signaled that the club was ready to give their passionate fans a team worth cheering for.
“#WelcomeHome” was the phrase of the week as the boys in purple prepared to face New York City FC in the inaugural match of Orlando City Stadium. The new state-of-the-art venue features a standing-room-only supporter’s section, giving the appearance of a wall of purple as opponents approach the raucous fans. The natural grass playing field and shaded seating areas are also significant upgrades appreciated by players and fans alike.
Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC
On March 5, the Lions picked up a 1-0 win over New York in front of a sold out crowd of 25,527 to start the season. Despite losing Kaka, Orlando’s face of the franchise, to an injury in the 11th minute, Orlando persevered to a hard-fought victory. Cyle Larin’s header from a Giles Barnes cross in the 15th minute was the difference in the match.
Orlando City SC vs. Philadelphia Union
The Lions followed up their successful season opener with a 2-1 win at home over the Philadelphia Union. Once again, Cyle Larin’s 73rd minute goal secured the win.
Orlando City SC vs. New York Red Bulls
After dropping a game on the road to the Columbus Crew, Orlando returned home for a third time to face the New York Red Bulls. A 34th minute header from Servando Carrasco was the game-winner in a 1-0 victory.
Following a second home shutout for Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik and a third straight win at home to kick off the new stadium, buzz was beginning to develop around the league that Orlando wasn’t the same team that missed the playoffs two years prior. The home field advantage was apparent to opponents, and the team’s much improved defense was stopping high-powered scorers in their tracks.
Orlando City SC vs. LA Galaxy
The Lions put their perfect home record on the line the following week against LA Galaxy. After a Galaxy goal in the 83rd minute tied the score at 1-1, the match appeared to be headed for a draw. However, Orlando rallied with a score in the 91st minute by Larin, sealing a 2-1 victory. Larin’s late score marked a third game-winning goal on the season for the young striker.
The fourth home win not only placed Orlando City at the top of the standings at 4-0-1, but it also set a league record for most consecutive wins to open a stadium. Late game goals are familiar territory for the Lions, dating back to last season where the team led the league in the category. This season however, Orlando has been on the positive side of the results, and the club looks to continue the early success on the road against NYC F.C. on April 23.