The next seven days are the most important in the short history of the Orlando City Soccer Club. On the field, the Lions enter the weekend six points back of Richmond in the USL Standings. Off the field, executives are finalizing a presentation that will hopefully secure county funding for a soccer-specific stadium. That funding is the final piece of a puzzle that will secure Orlando City a spot in Major League Soccer.
We’ll start on the field, where the Lions have played two fewer games than Richmond, so still control their own destiny in their quest for the regular season championship and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The stretch run won’t be easy. USL schedule makers have Orlando City playing their final six games in 15 days, including back-to-back games this weekend.
Sporting KC has provided the Lions some firepower for the weekend, loaning forward C.J. Sapong to OCSC, but it will only be for two games. Orlando could use him for the rest of the season. They’re only averaging 1.5 goals per game since Dom Dwyer was recalled by Kansas City.
The regular season championship may just come down to the Lions game on August 14th when they travel to Virginia to face the first-place Richmond Kickers.
Off the field, Phil Rawlins dreams could soon become a reality. Nearly four years ago when Rawlins announced he was moving the Austin Aztex to the “City Beautiful,” he talked of bringing MLS to Orlando.
On August 6th and August 9th, the Orange County commissioners will hear a presentation on a $60 million venues plan that includes $20 million for a soccer-specific stadium. It is a public meeting and the team has asked for their fans to show up wearing purple. They’re calling this “the last hurdle we have to complete before entering into final negotiations with Don Garber on being the next MLS franchise.”
This will be a nervous next seven days for Orlando City executives, players, and fans, but it should also be a time of excitement.