I am going to start this article off with a couple statistics, and you can guess what I would be talking about from there.
A sport team with the second highest average game attendance within the league, doubled the average season ticket holder purchases for the upcoming year, and was quoted to have one the most supporting fan bases in all of sports. Can you guess which sports team, let alone sports association/league I would be talking about?
Doubt that the first-year MLS expansion team, Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) came to your mind.
Let us just go back a couple years ago, Orlando City Soccer Club was playing in the USL Pro and dominating the scene, winning two of the championship titles and playing at The Walt Disney World’s ESPN World Wide Sports Arena. While fans loved the original OCSC, the team became a national and international phenomenon with the signing of Ricardo Kaka, a former member of the Brazilian national team.
The start of the season for OCSC was an eventful one, with the highest selling inaugural game against OCSC and NYFC, it was an eventful game, that ended in a game tying free kick in extra time, from no other the our captain Ricardo Kaka. The team was making a large push and impact in MLS.
With the team averaging an amazing game attendance, mentioned above, along with have French star Aurelien Collin and USMNT Brek Shea; the team was looking to make a splash in the US Open Cup and the MLS standings.
Regardless, the fans have always been optimistic and proud of the team. For example, the recent home game played against the Chicago Fire, had four rain delays and a lightning delay, instead of fans/supporters leaving, they chanted the teams anthem, “La Grande Victoria” waiting for the team to continue playing, one word: Dedication.
Yet with injuries, depth chart issues, and international callings, the OCSC looked to find a gem and improve the attacking front within the transfer window period. Everyone from Chicarito to Drogba, the Lions’ were unsuccessful in grabbing the big offensive name, yet did acquire Corey Ashe, Adrian Winter, and a couple other players. Kevin Molino and Brek Shea went out with injuries, yet are currently on the rebound to return sooner rather than later.
Rookie sensation Cyle Larin being called to play for the Canadian National Team, along with Kaka (Brazil), Shea (USMNT), and Ceren (El Salvador), causes the team to search the depth chart for players who may have never played in a MLS game, causing confusion, nervousness, and lack of chemistry.
Fast forward to the current picture, Orlando currently is in the sixth and final place for the playoff chance. While there are still a lot of games to be played, the Lions have had a successful first year, from the business stand point and from the on the field aspect. Regardless of making the playoffs or not, which would be a huge opportunity and goal that would be achieved, the Orlando City Soccer Club Lions are shaking the normal and looking to stay and make a difference in the MLS.
While I may be biased, what is your opinion on the rise of the Orlando City Soccer Club Lions?