With the Lions now in their second season in Major League Soccer, I am sure most of you have been to a match. For those of you that haven’t, what are you waiting for? I went to my first match five years ago, and I haven’t looked back.
In fact, I have abandoned all other sports because I don’t have time for them. There is so much soccer all over the world that I am never bored. Trust me when I tell you, it only takes one match to hook you and I hope this is your year if you have never been. With that said, here are my “Top 5” MUST DOs at an Orlando City Soccer Club match.
- Tailgate – This is an absolute MUST. It is hands down the most American thing about the beautiful game here in Orlando. Tailgates are a wonderful way to warm up before a match. Great food, great people, and beer! There are a number of lots around the Citrus Bowl where people come together two, three, sometimes six hours before the kick-off for some pre-match shenanigans! However, I have to say (with bias!), no one does it up quite like the supporters in Lot 11. With $5 donation for all you can eat food, and an open cooler policy, there is no place I would rather be!
Watch the march in – This has been a tradition since the early days of United Soccer League for the Orlando City supporters. About an hour before kick-off, you can hear the beating of the drums and the chants beginning to rise above Lot 11. After some chants and a toast to get the blood pumping, the march begins to defend our home, and “Man The Wall”.
The procession is a short one from Lot 11 to Gate C of the Citrus Bowl, but that doesn’t stop the supporters from putting on a show. The chants, drums, and purple smoke fill the air as hundreds of fans line the path shooting pictures and taking video.
Visit The Wall – The Supporter Section (aka The Wall) is a general admission area. You do need to have a ticket to get into the section, but you are able to stand on the rail at the top of the section. When I first started going to Orlando City matches back in 2011, I sat at midfield.
After one trip to the supporters section halfway through the 2011 season, I was hooked, and I have been there ever since. The energy and passion in The Wall is unmatched anywhere in the State of Florida. I will even go so far as to say that it is unmatched anywhere in the country outside of Portland or Seattle.
Take a walk around the Citrus Bowl – The newly renovated Citrus Bowl, you are able to walk around the entire stadium below the plaza level. This is awesome because you can get different views of the action on the pitch throughout the match. It’s nice to see a different perspective from time to time. So get out of your seat for a little while and take in the views. Who knows, you might just find a new section for your season tickets!
Wait for the players after the match – When the match is over, don’t just make a beeline for your car, especially if you have kids. Wait around a bit for the stadium to clear out, then head down to the south end of the stadium. Once you exit the stadium, hang a right and just passed the press entrance, you will see a small gated lot on your right. Security will be there keeping an eye on the handful of expensive luxury cars, this is the players lot. When it comes to player/fan interactions, the Orlando City players are a class act. On any given night after a match, you can get autographs and selfies with any if not all of the players. Even if you just want a fist bump and to say hi, they are always ready to greet the fans.
Like I’ve said, if you haven’t made it to a match yet, what are you waiting for? The Lions will be back home at the Citrus Bowl on May 6th, as they take on the New York Red Bulls. Kick-Off is set for 7:30, and there are still good seats available. Visit http://orlandocitysc.com/tickets for more info.