Orlando was a soccer hotbed Saturday night. The Florida Cup drew almost 64,000 fans at Camping World Stadium as Arsenal beat Chelsea 4-0. The atmosphere was electric at the start and Florida Citrus Sports should be celebrated for putting on the match and continuing to bring the top international teams to the area during their summer tours.
Plans for the 2023 event are being finalized now and the matches should again bring some of the sport's biggest brands to central Florida next summer. Despite not landing a host venue for the 2026 World Cup, Orlando continues to become one of the most desired destinations for international friendlies and will continue to draw the US National teams for matches in the future.
Orlando City also hosted Philadelphia on Saturday before an announced crowd of 16,031. The Lions fell 1-0 to the top team in the Eastern Conference.
In total, almost 80,000 fans were within a mile to watch a soccer match on a July Saturday night in Orlando.
For those criticizing or wondering why Orlando City would schedule a match the same time as the Arsenal-Chelsea match, it should be known the MLS match was scheduled months in advance while the friendly of the two Premiere League teams was not announced until this past April. And if you want teams like Arsenal and Chelsea, you know they get to control the schedule of when and where they play. Orlando City asked Philadelphia to change the day or match time but they chose to not.
Downtown Orlando was packed with fans of the growing sport and the thought of the area drawing 80,000 fans for two matches a decade ago was something most would have challenged. Saturday night was a celebration for fans of the sports, local organizers and leaders for putting on these events and a promotion for more nights like this.
As for Orlando City, the Lions must recapture a passionate and hungry fan base. The team sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and in position to make the playoffs. But the team has the most home losses in the league(Orlando City is 5-6 at home). The squad also struggles to score goals. Only six of the league's 28 teams have scored fewer goals than the Lions. While Orlando City has a number of young and talented players, the squad lacks a star fans flock to watch.
The Orlando City fan base is a lot like the Magic fan base. They are passionate and want to love their team but they need a product to love. When Orlando City wins it has tremendous fans that will make Exploria Stadium roar. Winning solves a lot and the Lions need to give the home fans what they thirst for...
Nuggets: A double disqualification at the Nascar stop at Pocono as both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch had their 1-2 finish tossed for failing post-race inspection. That gave Chase Elliott the win. The Joe Gibbs Racing duo may appeal and it's been decades since such a ruling has been made. The new era car was designed to basically give all teams the same cars with the same parts to avoid the "gray" area where everyone was trying to find an edge...As we and others have been reporting for weeks, the XFL is coming to Orlando. The league, now owned by the Rock, announced its eight franchises to play in 2023. The Orlando team, originally played in Tampa, will be coached by Terrell Buckley and play at Camping World Stadium. The league's release talks about possibly having all eight teams train and practice in the Dallas area and then travel to home markets to play games. The USFL, which played this spring had all their teams train and play in Birmingham. The USFL is owned and operated by FOX and had games air on FOX and NBC. The XFL has a media partnership with ABC/ESPN. Can both leagues survive? Time will tell. A merger might be the desire for both. Both leagues will bleed money and hope the NFL throws a lifeline to form a more formal partnership...Speaking of partnerships, there appears to be no plans for the Big XII and Pac 12 to merge and the clock is ticking on the Pac 12 to keep its league together. Their exclusive negotiating window with ESPN is winding down and the rumor is the money being offered is not appealing to some remaining schools and Oregon and Washington appear to want a bigger piece of the pie and other schools are strongly opposed to the idea. One nugget to watch is what Stanford may do. Some have thought the school may go independent in football and find a place for its other programs. A few weekend rumors had Phil Knight meeting with Big XII commissioner Brett Yormarck, not so much about Oregon, but about Stanford and their future. Knight may be Oregon's biggest donor but he also went to grad school at Stanford...As the Rose Bowl's future appears cloudy with the move of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten and the Pac 12's future up in the air, my suggestion is to do what I've suggested most big bowls should do in an expected expanded playoff era- move your game to the beginning of the season. The Bruins and Trojans should each host a game Labor Day weekend at the famed stadium. One can be the official conference opening game of the season and the other can be a big non-conference matchup against someone...Finally, I was watching Rocky II the other day. Anyone else notice how selfish Mickey was? I mean Rocky's wife is lying in a hospital bed in a coma and Mickey is trying to tell Rocky about getting out there to train for his rematch with Creed? C'mon Mick, have a heart...
Final note: How many of you know that Burgess Meredith's character's full name in the movie franchise was Michael "Mickey" Goldmill.