Orlando City SC: a journey to the top


Photo provided by: Kamal De Gregory

Orlando City Soccer Club playing in the U.S. Open Cup final (on 09/07/22). The Lions fought hard during the game, and throughout the entire tournament to hold up the trophy at the end of the night.

Nairie De Gregory, Staff Reporter

Orlando City S.C. is Orlando, Florida’s pro soccer team. Currently 5th place in the Eastern Division of the MLS (Major League Soccer), the Lions clawed their way to the top of one of the biggest soccer competitions in American history, the U.S. Open Cup. In this tournament, Orlando fought to make it to the finals, beating out fellow MLS teams the Philadelphia Union, Inter Miami, Nashville F.C., and the New York Red Bulls to secure a spot in the finals played on Wed., Sept. 7, where the Lions persisted and won the final 3 to 0.   

I am a major fan of both soccer and this team, and I am thrilled at what the team has accomplished, but this team really draws out a late winner. Several of the games went into penalty kicks after coming back from a goal down. And in the final, the first goal wasn’t scored until the 75th minute. This whole tournament was a nail biter, but that is something that I love about the club. They never gave up, not even when they were trailing Nashville in the quarterfinal by a goal in the 93rd minute. They could have slowed down and stopped, accepting defeat, but they did not. They scored off a corner kick in the 94th minute to tie the game, then played hard enough to send the game into penalties, where they won the game. Orlando persisted and that has been a common theme throughout this competition showing just how strong the club is. 

In the finals Orlando’s last obstacle was Sacramento F.C., a second division team on a “Cinderella run”(a lower division team/unexpected team getting to the final or even winning a competition) through the tournament. Sacramento were giant killers in the competition, beating three MLS teams to play in the final. Orlando, however, had a bit of an advantage: The final was held in Orlando at Exploria Stadium (the home stadium for Orlando). The Lions took the momentum from the sold out stadium and put it into the game beating out the “giant killers” 3 to 0. Orlando hoisted up the trophy and were deemed champions, winning their first major tournament and earning a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

To be honest, I was waiting for the moment where it all came falling down. I worried that there would be this moment where Sacramento scored and we could not get a goal back. Orlando, as much as I admire them, has a tendency to nosedive as the game’s conclusion approaches. They reach so close then fall so hard, but that didn’t happen, it was in fact quite the opposite. I have followed this club since it first began, and in that moment, I was so proud to be a fan.

The hope and energy from fans of this team truly shows in the players. They care about this team just as much as we do, and that’s what makes this club special. The players are proving in almost every game that they want to play, and to play for the fans. My club got a major feat, one that will influence the club for the rest of its history. The season isn’t over yet and neither is the hope for this club.