Well, how about that ride in?
After over a four month wait, the Lions took the field on Wednesday for the first time since March 7, giving us a performance that will be hard-pressed to forget with a 2-1 victory over in-state rivals Inter Miami CF.
For all of us, the viewing experience was different somehow, some way, but none of the abnormal compared to the feeling of relief to see live soccer back in our city.
On Tuesday, City will face another rival in fellow 2015 expansion side New York City FC. The last time these two sides matched up was on July 10, 2019 - another memorable moment in our Club’s history books.
After battling to a 1-1 deadlock in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals, the Lions defeated the Pigeons in a penalty shootout with former City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis diving for a game-winning save on Maxime Chanot’s attempt in the sixth round of penalties.
What followed was a roaring crowd, a dogpile on top of Grinwis and a celebration fitting for the Lions punching their first ticket in Club history to the Semifinal round of the nation’s oldest cup competition.
The most memorable moment of that match however came just before the penalty shootout in what eventually became known as The Running of the Wall.
Following the extra time period, the visitors in NYCFC opted for the shootout to take place at the south end of the stadium, opposite of the boisterous, rowdy City fans found in the Wall. That simply wouldn’t do for our fans.
A mad dash to the south end of Exploria Stadium ensued, with a visible rush of fans sprinting through the concourse to the opposite end of the building. In the time it took to set up for the penalty shootout, a previously empty section behind the goal was filled with a clamorous crowd of City fans.
What happened on the field was memorable in and of itself, but that action from the fans reminded us all how special this Club truly is in regard to the passion of its supporters.
“I was watching pretty closely just because I was on the sideline and I saw the people running through the stadium and for a second I didn’t think that they were going to let them through, but I was like ‘Oh man they got to let these people through, we need them back there, we need them supporting the guys’, Orlando City forward Chris Mueller said of the moment.
“When I saw them finally break through and just create a swarm behind the goal, I thought that was amazing. It just shows the love and the support that we have here in Orlando is next to none.”
A lot has changed since this time last year, but what has remained is the unwavering, relentless support of the City fanbase.
We wish nothing more than for Wednesday’s match to have taken place in front of a full crowd at Exploria Stadium, but health and safety is paramount at the moment.
While Tuesday will not offer the opportunity for a Running of the Wall type moment, we know that same passion and exuberance of our fans will be on full display.
Even though we cannot have our supporters in the building, we feel that same passion. We know it’s coming from your couches, your patios and even your vehicles.
Things may not be normal, but having soccer back provides an escape from our current reality.
Having the Lions back, well that’s just an indescribable rush for us all.