Orlando City will open up with back-to-back home games and host MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers for the first time as its 2016 schedule was released.
MLS announced the schedule for the 2016 season including the schedule for the second year of Orlando City SC.
The Lions, as was previously reported, will open their schedule March 6 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl against Real Salt Lake. The team will make its national television debut the following Friday, March 11, against the Chicago Fire.
In all, Orlando City will have 16 national television appearances, one short of the most the MLS allows and 28 of the team’s 34 home games will be played on weekends, ensuring the club can build off its successful expansion season.
— Christian Bruey (@CBrueyWFTV) January 7, 2016
In fact, six of the team’s first seven matches will be on national television — either UniMas, FOX Sports 1 or ESPN. In all likelihood, Orlando City’s new television partner, WRDQ Channel 27, will broadcast the season opener.
“This is an exhilarating year for our organization,” said club founder and president Phil Rawlins in a press release. “The 2015 season marked a year of many firsts and learning opportunities for us and our partners. In year two, we will continue climbing the ladder and become an even more competitive team. Securing a playoff spot in 2016 is at the top of our priority list.”
Orlando City set the record for most attendance by an MLS expansion club last year in averaging 32,847 fans. There was tons of excitement and season tickets quickly sold out for the team’s second season, actually forcing the team to expand its stadium plans for its third season.
The Lions’ home schedule is packed with some marquee matchups too.
The defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers will make their first trip to The City Beautiful this year on April 3 for an 8 p.m. battle on FOX Sports 1. The Lions will also host Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin and the Seattle Sounders for the first time this season on Aug. 7 in a national television battle on FOX Sports 1.
“We’re extremely excited to kickoff our second MLS season in front of our home fans,” said head coach Adrian Heath in a press release. “Obviously we’re disappointed that we didn’t make the playoffs in our inaugural campaign, but we’ll do everything in our power to ensure that we accomplish that goal in 2016.”
Orlando City will wrap up its second season against D.C. United on Oct. 23 in MLS’s Decision Day. Hopefully Orlando City will be playing for something on that day this time around.