The passion for soccer in the American South is red hot, almost more so than the weather, and it was nowhere more apparent than at the U.S. Open Cup semifinal at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando on 07 August 2019.
Orlando City and Atlanta United was the semifinal draw made in heaven, as Orlando have yet to beat their southern neighbors and both sets of supporters claim their club as “soccer kings of the south”. Nowhere else will you see more unwavering support and passion from a group of supporters in the south than during each respective club’s fixtures. Orlando City has had many groups around, like the Iron Lion Firm and the Ruckus, to support the club from its inception in 2011, and never do they falter. Atlanta United, on the other hand, has had massive attendances to every one of their matches and the fever for the game is rife across the North Georgian City.
The match lived up to its month long hype, with a fairly open game for the entire 90 minutes, and Atlanta coming away with a 0-2 win. Orlando seemed ambitious, coming out firing on all cylinders as Dom Dwyer delightfully chipped one over Brad Guzan after some delicious build up play in the first ten minutes, but it was deemed marginally offside, and they couldn’t seem to finish their moves in the attacking third from then on.
This didn’t change the wall’s support though, as they kept chanting, jumping and singing all night, even as Atlanta took advantage with goals from Eric Remidi in the first half and Bournemouth loanee Emerson Hyndman in the second half. Orlando City had a magical run to get to their first open cup semifinal in club history, and it’s a crying shame their unbelievable support on the night wasn’t rewarded. But Atlanta’s machine didn’t falter, and the 200 or so away supporters in the upper corner of the stand were rewarded for their long journey and traveled home happy.
American soccer and the desire for it is alive and well, and the open cup exemplifies this spirit year after year. The final is on the 27th of this month, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s magic.
Author – Dom Conrad of Eleven+You. Eleven+You are a collection of US Soccer enthusiasts and look at the best in fan culture and football jerseys. Go check them out on Instagram @elevenplusyou