It was a recording breaking year for Orlando City both on and off the pitch. With fans coming out to the Orlando Citrus Bowl in droves — setting the expansion team record for attendance in a season. To celebrate the fans who made it all possible, let’s take a look at the five most attended matches of 2015.
1. Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC (62,510) – March 8 – 1-1
#FillTheBowl. It was a sight to see as 62,510 descended on the Orlando Citrus Bowl for the Lions inaugural match. The tailgate was historic and the sea of purple in the seats was a sight many will never forget.
Both teams were held in deadlock for the majority of the game. It wasn’t until the 76th minute that Mix Diskerud opened up the scoresheet to put NYCFC a goal up over Orlando. The high intensity felt around the Citrus Bowl before the goal was now magnified. With six yellow cards shared evenly between each team, Aurélien Collin was red-carded and Orlando City went down to 10 men. The referee’s watch crept past the 90 minute mark and into injury time. The man that had been the talk of the town in Orlando proved that he was worth the hype. Kaká knocked in a last second free kick which activated a surge of electricity between the 62,510 fans around the Citrus Bowl.
2. Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC (43,179) – October 16 – 2-1
Clearly, March 8th left some positive impressions as over 43,000 returned to watch the rematch at seasons end.
Just before the end of the first half, New York City’s Kwame Watson-Siriboe netted the first goal of the game after a scramble in the box after the corner. This goal saw Orlando City trailing NYC once again at the Citrus Bowl. There’s no telling what was said in the locker room just seconds after this goal, but Orlando City started the second half with fiery intent. Young superstar Cyle Larin added two to his season tally within 8 minutes to show that Orlando City weren’t ready to settle for anything but a win in front of their second highest attended game of the season.
3. Orlando City SC vs. L.A. Galaxy (40,122) – May 17 – 4-0
40,122 fans gathered at the Citrus Bowl to welcome MLS giants LA Galaxy for this Sunday evening fixture. Clad in purple, the fans were in need of their first home win to get the season headed in the right direction. They got that and more.
The Lions wasted no time when Eric Avila set the pace for the night by scoring in the 12th minute. Cyle Larin followed Avila’s lead in the 34th by scoring his third goal in three games after nice setup from Kaká. Then, Kaká’s patience put him on the score sheet to make it 3-0 Orlando after scoring a penalty. Darwin Cerén put the game to bed with his strike from distance in the 73rd to round off the game at 4-0 to Orlando City in front of a roaring and optimistic crowd.
4. Orlando City SC vs. Montréal Impact (35,421) – October 3 – 2-1
Orlando City welcomed Didier Drogba’s Montréal Impact for this late season tilt. 35,421 fans filled the Orlando Citrus Bowl and it made for a playoff type environment.
Cyle Larin seems to make a nuisance of himself for the opposing defense whenever he’s in the box. Continuing his fantastic run of form, Larin knocked in his 15th goal of the season in the 33rd minute in order to put Orlando 1-0 up. After a Montréal equalizer from Dominic Oduro, Seb Hines was the hero, scoring his first MLS goal in epic fashion in the 80th minute to secure Orlando’s win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
5. Orlando City SC vs. New York Red Bulls (33,518) – July 19 – 0-2
This mid-season matchup also resembled the intensity of a playoff game.
After going down by a man and losing Cyle Larin to a questionable red card, Orlando City remained strong against an offensive New York Red Bulls. While the Lions were depleted in number, the 33,518 fans around the Citrus Bowl stood their ground as the extra man and remained behind Orlando City for the rest of the game.
Tensions were extremely high when Orlando Coach Adrian Heath was ejected from the game by the referee in the 74th minute. While walking off Heath clenched his fists and fiercely through his arms up in the air to urge the fans into the loudest roar that the Orlando Citrus Bowl has ever heard. While the crowd remained amped up for the rest of the game, Orlando City were unable to recover.
Nonetheless, players and all of the dedicated City fans set the electrifying atmosphere that would set the tone for the remainder of the season.