Orlando City SC begins its 2017 Major League Soccer (MLS) campaign in its brand new downtown stadium against 2015 expansion rival New York City FC on Sunday, March 5. Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium. A sell-out crowd of 25,500 is expected to be on hand for the first official match at the new stadium.
The match will be nationally televised on ESPN, as well as transmitted on Real Radio 104.1 FM in English.
"[NYCFC] is a dangerous team, there is no doubt about it. It’s a big challenge for us, but we are not afraid of it, ” Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis said. “We are not going into this game feeling like we are the underdogs - we are going into this game confident. It’s the beginning of the season, we are different team with a different mentality and a different spirit, and we are in our home, and we’ll protect our home fiercely.”
The privately financed soccer-specific stadium features North America’s first and only safe-standing supporters’ section, a natural grass playing surface and a four-sided canopy roof to keep the noise in and weather out. It also features 49 rainbow colored seats in Section 12 to honor the victims of the June 12, 2016 tragedy at Pulse Nightclub. Located on Church Street, Orlando City Stadium will be home to Orlando City of MLS, Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League and Orlando City B of the United Soccer League.
For Opening Day, Orlando City Stadium will open its doors two hours early at 3 p.m. to help fans get settled in their new seats.
In accordance with Orlando City’s new paperless ticket initiative, all season and single-game tickets for the match can be accessed through the LionNation mobile app. More information on paperless tickets can be found here.
Sunday will mark the seventh meeting between the two teams. Orlando City leads the all-time series with a 3-1-2 record. Orlando City striker Cyle Larin has scored six goals against NYCFC, including his first career hat-trick on July 26, 2015, while captain Kaká has scored three goals against New York City. NYCFC forward and 2016 MLS Most Valuable Player David Villa leads NYCFC with three goals against the Lions.
Larin built on a 2015 Rookie of the Year campaign with 14 goals and three assists in 2016. Kaká finished with nine goals and led the team with 10 assists while 11-time MLS Save of the Week winner Joe Bendik finished second in the league with 114 saves.
Orlando City will feature newly acquired Jamaican forward Giles Barnes, former U.S. national team defender Jonathan Spector and two-time MLS Cup champion midfielder Will Johnson. The Lions return midfielder Antonio Nocerino, Uruguayan defender José Aja and Argentinian playmaker Matías Pérez García.
The Lions will look to recapture the magic of their previous two Opening Days. In its first match on March 8, 2015, Kaká scored a free kick in stoppage time to equalize against NYC in the Club’s MLS debut in front of 62,510 fans. Then on March 6, 2016, Larin and Adrian Winter scored in the final two minutes of stoppage time to erase a 2-0 deficit and send 60,147 fans into a frenzy.
Fans should refer to the new clear bag policy prior to the match. For security purposes, Orlando City Stadium limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into the stadium.