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Orlando City MLS - Part 4
Continued from part 3.
Putting our frustrations aside we settled down to enjoy the atmosphere and the game. How different to a Premier league game!
There were whole families sat together, sometimes three generations with toddlers sat on laps and alcohol freely consumed within the stands. There were very few sky blue shirts in evidence amongst the sea of purple and our neighbours were interested and amused to find we were supporting the away team but their was no animosity, crikey in the Premier League you would keep your head low to avoid at the very least nasty verbal abuse! Purple cards were left on every seat and before the game started we were entreated to hold up the cards and turn the bowl purple! The crowd were thoroughly enjoying themselves, the ' Mexican Wave' progressed around the stadium and making paper airplanes with the purple cards seemed to be the great sport of the day!
Interestingly the game was shown live on three big screens around the stadium which would definitely not happen back home. Sadly there was no singing of football songs which I think is a great part of soccer culture, especially when there is no bad language involved and I think a rendition of Blue Moon would have been great (not for the home fans though) The crowd did chant in unison ' ref you suck' when they were unhappy with his decision but that is mild compared to the abuse of the referee at Premier League games and apart from one loud mouth individual behind me who used the F word repeatedly ( and not necessarily about the football just as an adjective about everything in general) there was no bad language in the conversations going on around. David made some soccer quips here and there which seemed both to amuse and perplex the locals, especially when an Orlando City player took an obvious dive and he shouted, ' Aw come on ref, he went down faster than the Titanic! ' The ref must have agreed as the player was booked for diving.
I suppose an account such as this should feature a report on the match itself but as I' m no soccer expert, lets just say that it ended in a draw which generally made for a happy crowd.
As happens when lots of people are leaving a massive stadium, exiting was slow but there was no pushing or jostling and at no time did I feel threatened or unsafe as can be the case at some of the Premier League Grounds.
Outside the stadium people seemed in no great hurry to leave the area and although there was a security presence, nobody seemed to be moving people on, the streets around remained crowded with good natured soccer fans.
For anyone who has tried to leave the car park at Wembley Stadium or Wembley Arena after a big event, you will know how difficult it can be to get off the car park and here in Orlando it was no exception. Cars were boxed in, some vehicles were trying to take short cuts up and down kerbs and weaving in and out through empty vehicles, but mindful of the fact that the vehicle we were driving was a rental car and that we wanted to arrive home in one piece, we stayed put for about 40 minutes or so until the traffic started to thin and then made our way, bumper to bumper to the schools exit. Once outside the school the traffic was moving well and our journey home was straight forward.
It remains to be seen if Orlando City will continue to draw the same sort of crowds as they establish themselves in the MLS, if they do then the parking and transportation around the stadium will need to improve.
On the plus side, this is a fantastic day out for the whole of the family!
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