It’s the first of July and there is so much going on this month, that fans of the “Beautiful Game” are salivating with anticipation. With the U.S. Open Cup, the MLS season in full swing, and the summer transfer window opening soon, July is shaping up to be one fun ride!
U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals
Last night Orlando City faced off against fellow MLS side, Columbus Crew SC. It was the third meeting between the two Eastern Conference foes this year, and it didn’t disappoint. After a marathon of a match last month in Charleston, the Lions would only need 90 minutes to send the Crew packing and out of the Open Cup. With goals from Kaka and Carlos Rivas in the first half, it was all the lads would need to secure the 2-0 victory, and their place in the next round of the U.S. Open Cup. The U.S. Open Cup is the longest running domestic tournament in the United States. The tournament is open to all eligible amateur and professional clubs, with the winner securing a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League later in the year. The Lions need just three more wins to bring home their first piece of silverware as an MLS club. But first the lads will need to get past the Chicago Fire on July 22, to keep the dream alive. Kick-off is scheduled for 8:30 pm and can be seen at any of the City Pub locations or via the U.S. Soccer channel on YouTube.
Chicharito Watch 2015
Will he or won’t he? That is the question that has fans are chomping at the bit for an answer. After appearing for his country in front of a crowd of over 53,000, this past Saturday, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is a wanted man! For the past few months, fans have been teased with the idea that the Little Pea (Chicharito) would be coming to Major League Soccer at some point this season. The rumor mill has been churning extra hard this week with Chicharito to Orlando stories. From a local sports reporter that shall remain nameless (He doesn’t work for WESH or WFTV), to mlssoccer.com, everyone seems to think this is a real possibility. For my own selfish reasons, I hope they are right! Javier Hernandez is just the type of young, proven international talent that MLS needs to sign in order to help shake the “Retirement League” label it is often given by fans. To be fair, the label kind of rings true if you consider the roster of international superstars the league has signed in the past. Sure there are plenty of young American players in MLS, but the ability to attract young international talent has always been a struggle for Major League Soccer. Chicharito might just be the guy that helps change the perception of MLS around the world. It won’t happen overnight, but if he can come here and flourish, you never know who might come next.
Orlando City Heads West
As if celebrating our independence with BBQ and fireworks wasn’t enough, Orlando City will play a late match this 4th of July against Real Salt Lake (RSL). The match is scheduled to kick-off at 10 pm and will be carried on My 65 here in Orlando. This match is important for a few reasons… First, it would be nice to extend our winning record against clubs from the Western Conference. The Lions are 4-1-1 this season against out of conference opponents. Second, a win keeps us above the “red line” and in contention for one of the playoff spots in the east. Finally, there has been a lot of talk from Real Salt Lake supporters that they are the “original” lions, not Orlando City. It’s been said that Orlando City is unoriginal and just copying RSL’s lion mascot, blah blah blah… To be honest I never knew their mascot was a lion. If you look at their uniform and their team crest, the only thing you will notice is a crown, which make sense because they are Real (Spanish for royal) Salt Lake. I know it’s just banter, but to call us unoriginal is just silly. If we really want to get down to it, RSL has been around since 2005, which makes them 10 years old this season. The original Orlando Lions (The club Orlando City is named after) began play in 1985 and were active until 1996. So, please forgive me if I don’t see your lions as the “original” RSL supporters, because well, you know our Lions have 25 years of soccer history behind them.
Tickets are still available for the next home match against FC Dallas on July 11th. Kick-off scheduled for 7:30 pm at the Citrus Bowl.
Photo Credit: Ismael Shah