ORLANDO — In the minds of some, American sports is about football, baseball and basketball.
European sports? A lot of people think of soccer as a favorite sport across the continent, and there’s no question that Europeans love a good soccer match.
As it turns out, Americans increasingly do as well — particularly here in Orlando.
It helps that for the past few years, Orlando has had its own soccer team, the Orlando City Lions. They regularly play at the Florida Citrus Bowl and the Amway Center, matches that give sports fans a fun game to watch during the summer months.
Those games, come to find out, are growing in popularity.
On Wednesday, Orlando City Soccer announced that the club surpassed an average of 8,000 fans a game in the 2013 regular season. That’s the highest in club history.
In mid-June, the club also set an international friendly attendance record, with 11,127 supporters coming out to watch the Lions battle Brazilian Champions Fluminense FC.
Previously, that mark had been set back in July 2011, the Orlando City Soccer played against the English Premier League’s Newcastle United. During that game, though, attendance was lower, at 10,889.
Orlando City’s regular season attendance figures just keep getting better. Are Americans discovering the joys of a good soccer match?
The club began operations in 2011, and in that first year, the team averaged 5,418 fans per match. In 2012, that rose to 6,610.
Chris Jones, spokesman for the team, noted “The club also surpassed the regular season record of total fans in attendance over one season in 2013 (112,738), beating the previous record of 79,316 in 2012 by over 30,000 fans.”
Not too shabby.
Why not check out a match this weekend? Orlando enters the 2013 postseason on Saturday at the Florida Citrus Bowl, when they play against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Tickets for the Quarterfinal game, which start at $15, are available by calling 855-ORL-CITY or by visiting OrlandoCitySoccer.com.
Orlando City Soccer Club is a professional soccer sports franchise and member of the USL PRO.
“The Lion’s pro team has won two regular season titles and one postseason championship during their short time in Orlando,” Jones noted.
Maybe it’s time to find out what Europeans have known for a while — the joy of soccer.
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