On Sunday, Orlando City will face off against New York City FC, as one of many MLS Heineken Rivalry Week matches. While Orlando City and New York City FC (NYCFC) might not be your typical rivalry, it has a history stretching back to before their inaugural MLS seasons even started.
The animosity between these two teams began in their inaugural preseason, when Orlando City received the first pick in both the MLS Expansion Draft and the MLS SuperDraft, which gave them the eventual MLS Rookie of the Year, Cyle Larin. NYCFC received the top spot in MLS Allocation Rankings, which they used to acquire Mix Diskerud.
At a time when both teams were competing to be the best new team in the league, Orlando City got the upper hand.
Once those mechanisms were set in place, the clubs went about building their teams and developing their strength for opening day, where they would face off in both team’s inaugural match. NYCFC traveled to Camping World Stadium (then, the Citrus Bowl) with the hopes of winning their first game. But the Orlando City fans didn’t disappoint, packing Camping World Stadium with a record attendance of 62,510 people. NYCFC took an early lead, but Orlando City came back with a late goal by Kaká to earn a draw. Orlando City proved that they could come back from a deficit, while NYCFC had given up an early lead. The rivalry was born.
Last season, the teams split their matches three ways, 1-1-1 and Orlando City finished seven points ahead of NYCFC. This season, Orlando City earned a 1-0 victory early in the season, and a dramatic 2-2 draw at the end of May that featured a late-game equalizer off the head of Kevin Molino. NYCFC has the upper hand in points as they sit second in the East.
Recently, a new element has been added to the rivalry with NYCFC. Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis was formerly the head coach for NYCFC. In fact, he was the inaugural head coach for the club and stayed with them until the end of their first season before being replaced by current head coach Patrick Vieira.
Orlando City wants to walk out of the match on Sunday with three points, as they always do. But this time will be a bit different. A bit more personal. The game is sure to be exciting.
Orlando City kickoffs against New York City FC on Sunday, August 28th at 7:00pm in Camping World Stadium.