Orlando City v. Philadelphia: Match Recap


I'm loaded up on Cafe Bustelo and still pumped up from last night so this write up is going to be fun. What a match from the Lions last night, Philly was always going to be a tough one with our track record with that club but damn Orlando has a different swagger these days.

Man Crush Monday - Giles Barnes: I think we've got ourselves a hell of a player on our hands. On a day that Brek Shea was shown red in Vancouver, Giles Barnes was god damn brilliant in Orlando. Big GB showed off his pace, strength, hustle and just overall ability to boss a match. Larin for obvious reasons will get the headlines for his brace but it was Barnes who really impressed the crowd. Barnes in two matches has shown more passion than Brek ever showed in his two seasons in Orlando and that's all we ever ask for. I need to also address the clear elephant in the room, his hair. This dudes hair is 10/10 for real.

Dat Guy Larin: 3 goals in 2 matches? Dat Guy is off and running in 2017. The combination of Larin and Rivas up top has done wonders for Larin's goal tally and it will inevitably pay off for Rivas too. Cyle has gotten heat in the past for being "too lazy" and rightfully so, he's a big #9 that's just his game. Now with Carlos "Usain Bolt Jr." Rivas in the mix with his pace and dribble, Larin can afford to lay off a little which will do wonders for his stamina in the late stages of matches. Keep doing your thing, homie.

MPG a real G: Nothing I mean nothing beats seeing your 5'5 midfielder going face to face with an opposing player twice his size. Orlando City should've made the trade for MPG sooner than they did because the man is simply brilliant. 

Defense? We talking about defense: I surely will jinx it by saying this but the defense has been a joy to watch the first two matches of this campaign. A 2-1 lead surely would've been squandered this time last year but it's clear that Kreis is happy with his D nowadays.... uh wut. Spector and Aja are a joy to watch, clearing anything that comes their way in the air and Toia/Johnson doing wonders on the wings. With a top keeper in Joe Bendik, this team needed a quality back line to support him and we just might have found it. 

What's Next: The downside of a new season is that there's almost always an international break right around the corner. Orlando City are off for the next two weeks and will be back in action on April 1st against Columbus Crew. In the mean time, Orlando City B kickoff their 2017 campaign away at MLS hopefuls Tampa Bay Rowdies, hahahahahahaha sorry I laughed while typing that.

Have a great day & Vamos Orlando!


Orlando City v. Philadelphia Union Match Preview

Your boy is back and I'm here with a match day preview for you ladies and gents! It's been awhile I'll admit, I spent the majority of the off season catching up on sleep, eating an unhealthy amount of mozzarella sticks and looking at old pictures of Lewis Neal. Anyways, the season on paper has gotten off to a perfect start. 3 points against NYCFC, a letter from Third Rail asking for an apology, smoke in the stadium, what else could you ask for? Last weekends postponement of the match against New England was a huge let down especially for those that traveled but nevertheless we'll start the 2017 season off with two home matches in a row. With that all said, I bring you my match preview for this upcoming Saturday's match between Orlando City and the Philadelphia "We really play in Chester" Union.


Remember when I said the season started perfect on paper? Well that's cause we're now without Kaka for 6 weeks, Carlos Rivas for an undetermined amount of time and Seb Hines for 6 weeks. Yes, Kaka will be 35 in April and his legs are basically shot at this point but the threat of Kaka on the pitch is better than not having him at all. We're probably looking at the end of April before we see our captain playing again. The Rivas injury news is a bummer because word has been going around that this could be his breakout season where he puts it all together. I never wish injury on any player or opponent so I'll simply wish Hines a speedy recovery and hope he can at least be a reliable rotational player when he returns.


I hate to say it but Orlando City has had it's struggles against the Union in the past. In their last 5 meetings, Orlando has compiled a 1-2-2 record including a loss late in the 2015 season ending OCSC's playoff chances and a late free kick by Philly last May to rob OCSC of all 3 points.

Bendik/Blake Faceoff:

It's a match up between the best goalkeeper in MLS and some guy named Andre Blake. Now that it looks like Joe might have a solid line in front of him, his numbers will show how much of a class MLS goalkeeper he really is. This time last year I gave Bendik a lot crap for silly mistakes but as the season progressed he not only owned up to his mistakes but corrected them and now will be a Lion for the foreseeable future with his new three year contract. Saturday could be a low scoring affair with two of the best goalkeepers in MLS.


A Saturday evening match in Orlando City's new stadium? That place is going to be next level LIT. I'm excited to see if the likes of Spector, Toia and Will Johnson can put in brilliant shifts like they did against NYCFC and if Barnes can take on the roll of filling Kaka's boots while he's out. I fully expect a close match but with Orlando City being well rested after last weekends postponement, I can see the Lions taking this one 2-1.

Vamos Orlando! 



Be like Phil. Not like Rich.

How is it that after a mere six seasons of professional soccer being in Central Florida that Orlando City Soccer Club owns the heart and soul of this community? The astronomical growth of the sport in this city is partially due to macro trends across the United States which point to the growth of professional soccer as a whole. The true secret ingredient to the success of the Lions is Phil Rawlins. In this your day of resignation as President of the club and your end of involvement from day to day operations, we thank you for having changed our community for better on most every level.

OCSC came to Orlando at a time when the only professional sports side in town was the Orlando Magic. The Lions were rightfully met with skepticism from The City Beautiful as countless other minor league teams had met their quick extinction in the 407 as exampled by the Florida Blazers, Orlando Renegades, Orlando Thunder, Orlando Rage, Florida Tuskers, Orlando Lions, Orlando Sharks, Orlando Seals, Orlando Rays and of course the Orlando Miracle. There was little to no reason to believe that the ‘Orlando City Lions’ would be any different. 

                                                                    OCSC 2011

                                                                    OCSC 2011

The spearhead to the instant success OCSC had in Orlando back in 2011 was Phil Rawlins. Mr. Rawlins was a breath of fresh air in Orlando.  Phil truly cared about the fans who supported his modest club. That first season many of us who were season ticket holders, both supporter section enthusiasts who belonged to the Iron Lion Firm or Ruckus and regular fans who sat throughout the stadium, knew Phil Rawlins personally. He was easy to find before, during and after games. Rawlins made fans feel appreciated with his humble approach, sincerity and affectionate mannerisms.   Rawlins was a straight shooter who spoke his mind and shared the same passion for the sport as we did as supporters. Phil loved talking footie and while this was a business, it was also his love.   

In the forthcoming seasons Rawlins remained a steady hand who you could always bank on shaking hands with fans before matches during tailgates, working with Iron Lion Firm and Ruckus officers as he met with us personally to see what the club could do to help in our operations without ever wanting or asking us to violate our independence as a supporter group which allowed us continued growth. Phil would routinely be seen those first few seasons in the supporters section of matches chanting songs of support for the team with the supporters all the while from time to time turning a blind eye to our benign tomfoolery as the occasional smoke bomb would be lit off in the south end of the Citrus Bowl. Phil was proactive in creating events where the supporters could interact directly with Coach Adrian Heath and leadership at the Front Office. Rawlins communicated as clearly as he could, or better yet as he was allowed to based on outside variables with the fans. When we faced challenges from Walt Disney World and the Wide World of Sports facility in our fourth season which led to heated times between the supporter groups and the front office, Phil sincerely tried to bridge the gap between us in achieving our mutual goals. With Rawlins, while we might not have seen eye to eye every time, we always knew that with him we could assume positive intent.

Phil and Kay very early on made it a point to serve our community even with the limited resources of essentially being a startup business. The work the Rawlins family has done with the Orlando City Foundation as well as numerous other projects too many to mention in a blog article is eye brow raising. Kay Rawlins is active in our city throughout the entire year making it her job to improve and make better the community that has given so much to her family. The community sees this.  It does not go unnoticed and further strengthens the bond between OCSC and city. 

Compare this to Rich DeVos, the owner/president of the Orlando Magic.  DeVos is the antithesis of Phil Rawlins. In the Orlando Magic, our community has a basketball team that while has given Central Florida a fair share of special memories and put Orlando on the map from a sporting perspective, is a professional sports club with zero soul whose owner in Rich Devos many of us feel total apathy and are lethargic about. The few who do feel strongly about Mr. DeVos in Orlando tend to have a negative impression of him. 

                                 Rich Devos

                                 Rich Devos

The Orlando Magic are the epitome of the American pro sports machine which only care about television deals, playing in super arenas which cater to premium seating, special access to clubs (The Mercedes Lounge) inside the facility which give their highest paying patrons luxury in stadium amenities and box seats a plenty where they can charge premium prices.  Not only did the Orlando Magic make us as residents fork up millions of dollars to pay for the building of this arena under threat of abandoning Orlando for another market should they not get their way as is now routine among billionaires to hold cities hostage in getting their greedy way, Rich DeVos than made Buddy Dyer look foolish by also negotiating control of the arenas advertising rights for ALL events in the ‘Amway Center’ despite already having had the stadium built at the tax payers expense and having negotiated a sweetheart rent deal with the City. Think about that for a minute; the Orlando Magic control primary advertising rights for ALL events at the Amway including concerts and sporting events that have nothing to do with the Magic. That man thru his sports team controls primary advertising rights for all Arena events inside the arena City of Orlando residents and our tourist tax dollars help built. Rich DeVos bent over our community, put no lube on his shaft and fucked the city of Orlando over.  

In Rich DeVos we have an individual who is a Michigan man through and through who still makes his residence up there. DeVos has never cared about our city outside of making a profit and using our tax dollars to build his team a new money making arena. Rich frankly cares much more about funding his ultra-right wing political causes which include promoting anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage legislation, the latter in particular most of us here in Orlando find wildly offensive. DeVos has made millions and millions taking from this community every chance he has gotten which as a consequence has never allowed the team to capture the hearts of Orlando residents. As a result, the Orlando Magic has no soul. They are devoid and passion. The Amway Center has no character. Fans don’t have that connection with the blue as they do with the purple.    

As the writer of this piece, I can assure you I am no idealistic romantic. I see Phil for who he is. Phil Rawlins like Rich Devos is a capitalist and a businessman whose goal is to make a monetary profit. Rawlins came to Orlando not because he loves Central Florida. Rawlins came to Orlando because he felt this was the market he could grow his minor league soccer club from Austin Texas to someday be a part of Major League Soccer. Phil is an intelligent man and had the vision to see the coming explosion in popularity of soccer in the United States. He thought Orlando was the market he could best exploit this growth and build a soccer club which would be known around the globe, achieve the pinnacle of American Soccer by playing in MLS and of course make a strong profit. Phil succeeded and met all his goals.  He did business the right way. Mr. Rawlins did not cut corners and built real relationships throughout Orlando from the politicians to the random ILF member struggling to make ends meet making $9 an hour who spent his limited leisure funds in coming to the stadium to support his soccer club. There is a real connection between the fans and the club for all the aforementioned reasons described in this article. So much so that many of us take ownership of Orlando City Soccer Club as we love what the team represents. Orlando City is the antithesis of the Orlando Magic. That right there is the key to his success and the success of Orlando City Soccer Club. 

Today Phil Rawlins resigned from his role as club President and involvement in day to day operations. As a die-hard supporter of OCSC, I saw this moment coming a mile away. After the changes made in the off season last year, it was clear our club was headed in a different strategic direction on every level from where Phil had led us. Flavio and his new leadership team believed the team should be managed differently now that we were in MLS. Time will prove them right or maybe will prove them wrong. 


I challenge Alex Leitao and Flavio Da Silva to not ignore what made Phil so successful.  Follow his lead. You are now the care takers of this beautiful soccer club we are now all emotional stakeholders in.


Yes, Orlando City had early success in USL on the pitch. Those USL trophies however were not the reason why OCSC continuously led the league in attendance or were near the very top.  We did not attract the attention of MLS and Don Garber because Miguel Gallardo was the second coming of Iker Casillas or because Inchy was more comedic in the coaches’ box at times than Jose Mourinho. Led by Phil Rawlins, what got Flavio involved in OCSC and what got us in MLS is that deep bond Phil built with this community. Despite his capitalistic end goal, Rawlins came to genuinely love Orlando.  It showed with his actions. Please take Phil’ example to heart. Don’t follow the lead of Rich DeVos who just takes from our community while giving to causes that don't represent the values of The City Beautiful. I challenge you to respect us as fans and respect our City.  In turn you have our unconditional support. In the good and especially the bad. 


An Orlando's City Fan's Christmas Wishlist

Santa sent us this letter he recently received from a young man in Orlando and we have reprinted it here, in it’s entirety, with permission from all parties involved.


“Dear Santa,


This year I have been a very good boy. There are a lot of things that I hope that you might bring me for Christmas this year. I know you are very busy and have to bring presents to lots of boys and girls so I’ll make my list as short as possible.

For starters, I’d really like a new pair of Sambas, purple if at all possible. The new season is coming up and I need to look fresh when I’m in the new stadium.

Speaking of the new stadium, we’d really like cup holders in The Wall. We need places to put our beer while we clap along to “La Grande Victoria”. I know there has been much debate as to whether or not we will have cup holders and the ILF members page has had daily picture updates, so if you could make that happen it would be great. #CupHolderWatch2016

Another thing I’d love for you to be able to give me this year is for you to move The Tree from Lake Beardall over to our tailgate spot at the new stadium. That tree has brought many a great memory over the years and it would be sad if we didn’t have it next year. You should be able to get the reindeer and an elf or two to help you move it no problem.

I don’t just want things for myself this year, oh no. I’m not selfish. I’d like for you to bring Orlando City a few gifts as well. They desperately need a defender or three. The back line was made of swiss cheese last year. We need lots of help. Please please please send a defender that knows how to mark a man. And isn’t wheezing running down the field. And if you could give us a supporter’s shield and MLS Cup next season that would be good too. 

Give my love to Rudolph and I hope you have a safe flight!

Love, Bo”


We wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and very Happy New Year! Don’t forget to your 2017 ILF Membership if you haven’t gotten it already. And buy one for a friend or two!!


Holiday spirit alive and well in downtown Orlando


We here at the ILF News tower have received multiple reports of a despondent young man at The Patio, a bar on Washington Street, being fairly unapproachable and verbally abusive to himself between the hours of 8pm and 11pm on Thursday night.  One passerby mentioned great concern as they witnessed the man being asked if he'd placed a wager on a nationally televised football game showing in the establishment, to which the individual responded, "I bet my life on this game."


It seemed as though the result did not turn out in the individual's favor, but grasping his beverage the man proceeded to raise his as well as the crowd's spirits by dictating the musical moods for the remainder of the evening.

Witness the musical stylings of the man known only as Grape La Flame every Thursday for TYS at The Patio's Jungle Room and most especially on New Year's Eve at The Social from 10pm-2am.

Happy Holidays.