A Supporter Divided: Dealing With Split MLS Loyalities



Most of you know me as the humble assistant editor of your favorite Orlando City blog, but in truth, I have a dark, terrible secret simmering just beneath the surface. It’s burned inside me, hidden from the public eye for some months now, but the Lions’ upcoming match this Friday has made it impossible to conceal any longer.

The terrible truth? I'm a D.C. United fan.

Gosh, it almost feels good to have it out there; like a great weight has been lifted off of me. The reprieve will be brief though, as my two favorite teams will face off for the first time in Major League Soccer on Friday night in the Citrus Bowl.

And yes, I said two favorite.

You see, I was a D.C. United supporter long before the thought of an American soccer club ever crossed Adrian Heath’s or Phil Rawlins’ minds. In fact, I was a D.C. supporter more than a decade before the very first iteration of the Orlando club took shape in Austin, Texas in 2008.

I was there at RFK in 1996 for Etcheverry and Moreno. Heck, if there was a beer on the line, I could probably name the entire starting XI from that first MLS Cup. I watched many a game clock inexplicably count down to zero instead of up to 90, and 10-year-old me secretly enjoyed the breakaway style penalty kicks.

That's not to discredit my level of support for Orlando City, though. I arrived late to the party, but like many of our readers, I was swept up in the the excitement for the team around the city. I moved to Orlando in late 2013, and by fall of 2014, I was covering USL matches from what passed for a press box at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Nowadays, I attend training and media events, cover matches, and help run the best Orlando City fan blog out there.

Rest assured though, I'm well aware of the conflict. Ignoring journalistic objectivity for a moment, who am I to root for tomorrow? I honestly don't have an answer. My hometown United vs. my adopted Lions.

It won't get easier, either. Orlando and D.C. are both in the Eastern Conference, and will play numerous times each season. For the expansion side in purple, the road to the MLS Cup goes through four-time MLS Cup winners and defending Eastern Conference champions from the nation's capital.

As for my conflict, I'm not sure what the answer is. Maybe after a few match-ups, it will just naturally feel right to commit to one or the other. Hard to say, but I may have to fall back on objectivity in the press box to get me through this Friday.

What I will say, though, is that there are worse problems to have. I have two American teams to support with passionate fans, quality players, winning traditions, and brand new, soccer-specific stadiums on the way. When you frame it as an embarrassment of riches rather than a conflict, it really doesn't sound all that bad!

For real though…Friday's going to be rough.


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