When the 2016 Orlando City schedule dropped this afternoon I could hear calendars being circled around the globe. It’s always exciting to take a look at what’s in store for your favorite team and we’re no different here at City Headquarters. Below, we take a look at five matches that we’ll be eagerly awaiting in the coming season.
March 6th vs. Real Salt Lake
You’ve already known about this one for a few weeks, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. It will have been a long wait for City fans when the Lions return to the pitch and I can’t help but think the atmosphere will live up to last year’s opener.
Among all other things, the high anticipated return of Kevin Molino to the pitch will make this an event for all Orlando City diehards. The midfielder has been recovering from a knee injury sustained early last season and we’ll get a chance to see his progress over the next few months.
This will be Real Salt Lakes first appearance in the City Beautiful. The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw last season at Rio Tinto Stadium.
April 3rd vs. Portland Timbers
Remember the last time a returning MLS Cup champion played in the Orlando Citrus Bowl? That was a fun one.
The Lions will have a chance to play spoiler yet again as the Timbers come to town just five short months after taking home the MLS Cup. They will return the vast majority of their championship team and should serve as a great early season test for Orlando City.
May 15th at Kansas City
Ever been on the road to support your team? It’s a great experience and this match would be one to go ahead and book your ticket for.
First, it will be a pleasure to see these two teams square off again. It was a playoff type atmosphere in Orlando when the Lions topped Sporting KC 3-1 last September. Sporting will surely be out for revenge on their home turf and I’m sure this match won’t disappoint.
Second, Sporting Park is a fantastic soccer specific stadium that will give you a taste of what is to come in Orlando. It’s even designed by the same firm that crafted the blueprints for the Lions new digs. With a capacity of 18,467 the stadium regularly sells out, so plan ahead.
August 7th vs. Seattle Sounders FC
When the Sounders come to town in August they’ll be the only team in MLS yet to have played in the Orlando Citrus Bowl. With them, they’ll bring some great talent.
The pair of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins up front for the Rave green are a great spectacle. The Lions had a tough time in Seattle last season and I’m sure they’ll be looking to return the favor when the Sounders make the long trek east.
September 17th vs. Columbus Crew SC
Yup. You knew this one would be on here. Orlando and Columbus built up quite the, lets call it animosity, last season. Four heated matches had the word “rival” being thrown around by many.
This late-season match could have massive implications in the eastern conference playoff race — as if any additional fuel needed to be added to the fire.
If I were you, this wouldn’t be one I would miss.