Orlando City SC

More on MLS expansion; let’s talk about Orlando


Excited discussion over Orlando’s march toward possible MLS entry, spurred by the promise of Orlando City Soccer Club happenings, dominates a good chunk of league expansion talk now.

While we all love some MLS expansion talk, circle this warning: It reminds me a lot of what happened in St. Louis a few years ago.

In Orlando, president Phil Rawlins and the staff of a young club have done wonders so far. The club regularly drew more 5,000 fans, and true grassroots supporter groups have fueled a genuine buzzy buzz over the team.

MLS commissioner Don Garber has plenty of good things to say about it all. Studies and commissions developed for more studies are being launched to examine facilities and financing and such. Which is all just splendid.

But we’ve been here before. Jeff Cooper got oh-so-close in St. Louis back in 2008 and 2009. It looked like all the elements were in place: local, committed, passionate ownership, a club to build it around (A.C. St. Louis), a market that seemed keen on supporting soccer, and enough money to gain reciprocal MLS interest. Cooper even put together a stadium deal in nearby Collinsville, which put “The Lou” miles ahead of most other interested expansion targets.

(MORE: Harsh realities of MLS expansion talk)

While Cooper was a rich man, what he didn’t have was enough money to ultimately get the big train moving out of the expansion station. MLS isn’t really looking for Jeff Cooper money; rather, it covets the stability of Paul Allen / Microsoft money.

So, when we talk about Orlando and realistic MLS possibilities, keep that in mind. It doesn’t mean Orlando won’t happen someday … it just means that more money may be required.

What Garber said about Orlando in Monday’s annual pre-MLS Cup State of the League address:

We’ll continue to monitor what’s happening down there and I think at some point, if they’re able to finalize a stadium plan that make sense, we’d be very interested on working with them on an MLS team.”

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)