It’s officially MLS Rivalry Week and while Orlando City doesn’t have an official rival for the week, we take a look at some potential candidates down the road.
As a budding franchise, Orlando City SC is looking to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the MLS. Along the way, rivalries are naturally created within the league that can stir up passion and fervor in their in players and fans. As the 2015 season progressed, match after match began to provide insight into which teams would be rivals with Orlando City down the road.
Now, here are Orlando City’s five biggest budding rivalries.
Honorable mentions: Atlanta United FC and Miami-based David Beckham team
Because of their geographic proximity to Orlando, both Atlanta United, who enters MLS play next season, and Miami, who will likely get an expansion franchise int he near future, will be potential rivals from the start. The short driving distance between the cities should prompt a wealth of away support and create a fantastic atmosphere.
#5: DC United
A trilogy of hard-fought, close scoring games in 2015 set the stage for this season’s match ups. A combined eight yellow cards were given in the 270-plus minutes of play last season. All three matches were decided by one goal, the first two going in the favor of DC and the final one ending with Orlando on top. This is a perfect example of the new guard challenging the old: the 2015 expansion Orlando City versus the four-time MLS Cup-winning DC United.
#4: Montreal Impact
The close of the 2015 season was a hot race for the playoffs. City, hungry for the final playoff spot, rattled off five straight wins, including a late game stunner against Montreal. But it was to no avail, as Montreal went on a streak of their own and clinched a playoff spot despite their defeat. Now, with Montreal at the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference, Orlando City will be fired up for their home game against the Impact this weekend.
#3: New York City FC
As they were both expansion teams in 2015, Orlando City and NYCFC battled for the mantle of most successful new kid on the block. The two teams split their 2015 matches three ways, 1-1-1. However, Orlando finished seven points ahead of NYCFC in the league standings. One game is already in the books this season, a 1-0 win for Orlando City in which they scored early and held the lead despite heavy pressure. Hopefully the future continues to hold many exciting matches between the two.
#2: New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls, winners of the MLS Supporters’ Shield last season, represent a standard of excellence in the league, having qualified for the playoffs the last six seasons. Orlando’s throttling of the Red Bulls 5-2 late in the season left New York with a sour taste in their mouth. The game featured scoring dominance by Orlando City in the limited time of possession they had – just over 35 minutes, and New York defender Matt Miazga being sent off for his second yellow. This season’s first match up featured the same toughness, likely to become a routine in Orlando-New York games. Eight yellow cards were given out in the 1-1 draw.
#1: Columbus Crew
Orlando City faced the Columbus Crew four times last year, and each contest was grueling and physical. The rivalry began with Columbus netting three goals in a shutout victory over Orlando, which City played mostly with ten men after Rafael Ramos was sent off. This result could’ve set the stage for a Columbus rout the entire season, but Orlando learned and improved in the succeeding matches. The next match was a 2-2 draw, but it was even more physical with six yellow cards and a red for Columbus defender Michael Pankhurst’s handball in the 15th minute. Orlando would win the next two matches, a 2-0 win in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals and a 5-2 drubbing of the Crew. Columbus would go on the represent the Eastern Conference in the MLS Cup Final. The first game of 2016 between the two will be in late July and we’ll be able to see if this potential rivalry will pick up where it left off.