Orlando Set For A Footy Bonanza!

Orlando , Expert View Column
One side of a football stadium's seats with a cityscape in the background. The seats are purple with detailing that spells out "Orlando"
By AttractionTickets.com’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Coming to Orlando for the theme parks? Don’t overlook the sport.

America’s soccer fans are on high alert for the start of the new season here in the US, especially with a major summer spectacular to look forward to.

The past decade has seen something of a sporting revolution in this country, with the wholesale adoption and embrace of the world’s most popular game in both domestic and international terms. The arrival of a certain L. Messi in Miami last year has ratcheted up the interest to new heights and given Major League Soccer (MLS) a major shot in the arm, shining a red-hot spotlight on the USA’s domestic league.

And, right at the centre of things, Orlando City has become a major player in this ever-growing picture of sporting fascination, both on and off the field. After the most successful league campaign in their 10-year MLS history, the Lions are ready to go a step further on two fronts starting on February 21.

First, they go looking for a debut win in the regional Champions League campaign as they take on Canadian side Cavalry in the first leg in Canada. Then, on February 24, they open this year’s MLS schedule with a home game against Montreal. The second leg of the Champions League showdown with Cavalry is back in Orlando just three days later.

And you can be sure the added expectations will ensure extra spice for every game at their recently-renamed Inter&Co Stadium this year, with the fans making the downtown venue a vibrant and raucous arena for regular fans and newcomers alike. (If, like us, you had to look up who Inter&Co are, you would have discovered they are a sports-orientated financial institution with strong connections in Brazil, where Orlando City has a significant fanbase).


Looking down into an empty football stadium with purple seats. The pitch is empty


More importantly, the regular season runs all the way through until October 19, and then the play-offs take over, leading up to the MLS Cup Final on December 7.

It all makes for a helter-skelter start to the season, which promises to be a highly charged and dramatic one for a number of reasons, both local and international – and that means extra excitement for our UK visitors, especially those who have never tried an Orlando City game yet.

The fan fervour and activity around the stadium on match day is something special to behold, and that atmosphere carries on inside the venue, which was purpose designed to be noisy and intimidating, with the rake of the stands quite steep and seats very close to the pitch.

There is a real buzz about the city for home games, notably at the fan-friendly Broken Strings Brewery, which is just a few blocks’ walk away, and along Church Street, where the ‘March to the Match’ usually features purple flares and lots of chanting (in English and Spanish).

Don’t forget to check out the Team Shop – which features the brand new Legacy jerseys, highlighting the club’s 10th anniversary in MLS – and walk around the whole concourse to sample the many concession stands on offer, including various local tastes.


A mock-up of a football shirt. It is white with red stripes on the shoulders and Orlando Health written across the front


When it comes to the on-field action, there will also be a LOT to look forward to this year. It will be the first full season of World Cup winner and World Player of the Year Messi with Miami, and he is sure to add extra spice and allure to every game he plays in.

This summer will also see the big South American championship Copa America in the US for only the second time in its 108-year history, with two group games each in Orlando and Miami, plus the Final itself at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

The tournament runs from June 20 to July 14 and will bring a new spotlight to soccer in America with the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico all in action alongside the hosts, and Premier League stars such as Luis Diaz, Alexis Mac Allister and Darwin Nunez (Liverpool), Moises Caicedo (Chelsea), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Casemiro (Manchester United) and Julian Alvarez (Manchester City) all in action.


A map of the USA labelling the football stadiums hosting games in the 2024 Copa America championship


If that doesn’t whet your appetite for a soccer spectacular, then consider this: the USA gets to host the World Cup itself in 2026 (in conjunction with Mexico and Canada), and this summer’s big Copa event will give us an advance taste of what to expect in two years’ time.

And, with two of those Copa games in Orlando, plus a full season of league and Champions League action, new players like Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro, Colombian ace Luis Moriel from Atalanta in Italy’s Serie A and Slovenian international David Brekalo alongside existing stars Facundo Torres (Uruguay), Ivan Angulo (Colombia), Pedro Gallese (Peru) and Martin Ojeda (Argentina), this represents a wealth of sporting talent on display throughout the year.

The Lions finished the last league season in second place overall and reached the play-off quarter-finals, and players like Torres, Angulo and Duncan McGuire (who almost joined Blackburn Rovers last month, only for a contract hiccup to ruin the move) can all expect breakout years in this super-hyped season.

So, if you’re looking for a genuine American experience, a uniquely Orlando occasion and the thrill of top-class sport, just make a bee-line for Inter&Co Stadium at any stage this year. Oh, and make a note of May 15 if you really want to see the sparks fly. The Orlando-Miami rivalry is already firmly established, and this date will see the first appearance in Orlando of Messi himself, which is sure to make the occasion extra spicy!


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Orlando , Expert View Column