Everybody knows that Orlando City SC’s #FillTheBowl initiative was a roaring success (no pun intended) with 62,510 spectators present at the Citrus Bowl for the Lions’ first ever Major League Soccer fixture against New York City FC back in March.
However, today’s official club reports confirm the second highest attended home game of the season was also against NYCFC!
Serving to put beyond all doubt that that the fellow expansion team are indeed the Lions’ major rival in MLS – well at least until Atlanta United land in 2017 – there was also a huge 43,179 at the Citrus Bowl for Orlando’s third meeting of the season with NYCFC more recently in October.
In fairness, a hell of a lot was still riding on Adrian Heath’s team securing a victory and nothing less in last month’s home fixture to keep their slim play-off qualification hopes alive but it would appear that fixtures against NYCFC had that extra allure in the eyes of home supporters.
Achieving an incredibly memorable comeback victory over Jason Kreis’ side courtesy of a brace from the now MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin following Kwame Watson-Siriboe’s first-half stoppage time opener, the Bowl was simply electric that evening.
Best of the rest
But which other fixtures made up the ‘top five most attended’ at the Citrus Bowl in the Lions’ first ever MLS campaign?
Orlando City SC vs LA Galaxy – May 17th 2015
A massive 40,122 made the pilgrimage to the Citrus Bowl back in Spring to watch Adrian Heath’s men simply run riot against Major League Soccer’s second most successful club, LA Galaxy.
Bruce Arena’s men had no answer on a sweltering day in Central Florida with goals from Eric Avila, Cyle Larin, Kaka and Darwin Ceren sending the home crowd into raptures.
Orlando City SC vs Montreal Impact – October 3rd 2015
The play-off’s were still well and truly alive for City when the free-falling Montreal Impact visited the 35,421-spectator Bowl early last month in a must win encounter.
While the Impact’s new DP Didier Drogba would’ve proved an immediate draw pre kick-off, the Chelsea legend only made a second-half cameo due to ruling himself out of playing on the Bowl’s plastic pitch from the start.
This was a blessing for Heath’s side with a late goal from unlikely source Seb Hines proving the difference in a 2-1 victory that was probably the Lions’ most nervy game of the season.
Orlando City SC vs New York Red Bulls – July 19th 2015
It was the other side from the Empire State that proved a huge draw for City supporters back in July when the big names from New York Red Bulls made the trip down the east coast to Central Florida to play in front of 33,518 fans.
A game that would truly test Orlando’s mettle as a newcomer in Major League Soccer, Jesse Marsch’s side proved too good for Heath’s men in the summer months when an absolute stunner from Sacha Kljestan put the Lions on the back foot before Mike Grella added some gloss in a 2-0 victory late on.