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Orlando City Coach’s Show Recap: Adrian Heath and Phil Rawlins Talk Match Results and Ticket Sales



With Orlando City playing in D.C. Wednesday night, this week's Orlando City Coach's Show had a different feel. Head coach Adrian Heath was in the nation's capital, so he was only able to join the show for the first segment. But in his place, club president Phil Rawlins was present.


Heath said he was very pleased to get a point against the defending Eastern Conference champions. "It felt like a moral victory" Heath said while also stating that being on the other side would've felt like a defeat. Very pleased with the comeback which he labeled "magnificent", Heath said that it would've been easy for the players to give up having been outplayed during the first half. "It would've been easy not to push the envelope that much but they did."

Starting right back Rafael Ramos' maturity has been questioned this season after being sent off against the Columbus Crew following a defensive mistake. Heath said Ramos' maturity showed as he didn't let Friday night's mistake, which resulted in a New England goal, dictate the remainder of his night. "He got us going again," Heath says about Ramos' rebound.


Much was made about Heath’s celebration after Aurelien Collin equalized late. Univision Deportes which aired the game, analyzed the jump during and after the game. As for Heath, he was quite “After the jump I probably injured myself again,” Heath says about his celebration.


When asked about what was said during halftime after being outplayed in first half, Heath said "I have to be careful what I do say," meaning he wasn't pleased. He said the Lions gave the Revs too much respect in the first half. His notes to his team were that they must play quicker and get further into the opposing half.


Unlike the Toronto FC game, Heath said his team did well to follow the halftime instructions. “We like to put the away team under pressure,” Heath said, “Ricketts didn’t have a save to make apart from Rafa’s mistake.” More than anything he was pleased with the pressure they put on New England in the second half.


Orlando City dominated possession during the second half. Heath says they made a few subtle changes. Cristian Higuita, who came on at halftime for Amobi Okugo, had a positive impact. They also moved the ball quicker and got the ball into the box quicker. Heath said he was also pleased that striker Cyle Larin got more involved in the second half.


The Lions are in the middle of a tough stretch of games with New England, D.C., and L.A. Heath says that they look at the next game first. He said that if the Lions can play anywhere near as well Wednesday night as they did last time against D.C., they can win the game. Overall it's a tough stretch and Heath said that, while this is a difficult period, it will get easier down the road.

Heath had to depart following the first segment leaving club president Phil Rawlins as the remaining guest on the show.


Rawlins said that sales for the upcoming game against L.A. Galaxy Sunday evening are very strong with over 32,000 tickets sold. It's already the second biggest crowd of the season at the Citrus Bowl behind the opening game which drew 62,500. The club tracks ticket sales daily and are expecting over 40,000 for Sunday affair.


So far this season Orlando City leads MLS in attendance. Even if you take the first game out, they are still second in the league only trailing the Seattle Sounders. Rawlins also said that the club will end up second or third in sponsorship sales. “There’s a great feel about the club right now,” Rawlins says.


One popular topic among fans this season has been a lack of available jerseys for sale. Rawlins said this isn't by design but they are just not able to keep them in stock. They sell out about as quickly as they arrive. While fans keep asking about where to purchase jerseys, Rawlins says the club has "got to direct them quickly" to where they can purchase one.


Rawlins said that Citrus Bowl seats open as demand increases. He said that for the upcoming game against the L.A. Galaxy, all 42,000 seats that fill the lower two levels are currently open.


When asked about why the club seems to be so popular locally, there were several factors. "We came into Orlando at the right time," Rawlins states. He said that the area was craving an identity that didn't have to do with theme parks and the Lions filled that role. He said there are a lot of soccer lover natives and soccer loving immigrants that were waiting for a team to support.

He also said that the team did a lot of the work themselves by playing an entertaining style consisting of a lot of goals. That created belief in the club and they built on that. He was also quick to mention that club's marketing department and the great job they've done. But in the end, Rawlins says the club is "blessed with a tremendous set of supporters." It's something both he and Heath consistently say they're surprised about. "They're some of the best supporters in the country."


Host of the show, Tom Traxler, said that it seems like "you're not cool if you don't have an Orlando City magnet," mentioning that he has his routinely stolen off his car. Rawlins said that he was surprised by their popularity as the club has distributed over 110,000 to date. They far exceeded their initial budget which Rawlins described as now "budgeting on the fly" due to their popularity.


Orlando City announced today that they've teamed up with 442 Sports to provide fans with a new magazine. This high quality program will have 84 pages of profiles and stats making it a great keepsake for fans. While the $10 item will be available at games, you can also subscribe to have the magazine shipped to you by visiting


One thing the club has stressed over the past few years is its economic impact. Rawlins said that the impact is already being seen. The club's first game this season drew over 10,000 fans from outside of Florida. He also said that downtown bars fill up for away games meaning that even when the team's not home, there is an economic impact. "We have an impact any time we play," Rawlins states, "It's something we promised we'd do and we're thrilled we've delivered on that promise."


Since the club broke ground on a new stadium, there has been a lot of work done. Most of it can't be seen as its underground work preparing the land for the erection of the stadium. It's been a long process filling in the pond and testing the site for toxins.

As for the $30 million the club is waiting for from the state, Rawlins again stated his disappointment on the Florida House of Representatives leaving their session early. He said that the money, which is "actually a loan", was in the 2014 budget and is "there and set aside" for the club. He said that the politicians have "dodged their responsibilities" making the stadium funding a political football being kicked around Tallahassee.


The state legislature will meet in a special session from June 1 to June 30 as they failed to balance the budget during their last meeting. Rawlins said he's still "very confident" about the session. He reiterated that stadium was ranked first in a group of sports projects based on economic impact and that "everybody know we have good business case" as it pertains to deserving the funding.


Rawlins said that while he doesn't want to "wish the season away" in anticipation for the opening of the new stadium next season, it'll be great day for the community and for the fans. He said it will be a home that "we control, that we run" which will be a first for the club.


Selling tickets tourists is something that Rawlins said the club has focused on. 62 million people visited Central Florida last year and the club has worked very closely with the hotels to gain the benefit from the area's tourism. Rawlins said the club sells about 15% of each game's tickets to people from outside the area which proves their economic impact claim.


Portland has the chainsaw and Philadelphia has "DOOP" but one fans wanted to know if the club has anything planned for a unique goal celebration. Rawlins mentioned the confetti that flies following goals saying that "rituals develop over time" and that it's the fans working with the club that develops them.


When asked about how the strong attendance will impact the future, Rawlins said it's been tough to tell because the data is all over the place. In 2013 the club averaged 8,800 at the Citrus Bowl during league play and then drew over 20,000 for the championship game. At Disney last year, with a smaller stadium, the club averaged around 5,000 and then drew 62,500 for the first game this year. He said now is the time to sit back and really see where they are and averaging around 32,000 a game is good.


Rawlins said that general manager Paul McDonough and the club's scouting network are always looking for players but that it's not easy due to the roster restrictions of MLS such as salary cap and restrictions on foreign players. It's much more difficult than European team. But the club is always looking to add quality and, while there won't be any changes in the immediate future, they're not done making moves this season.


While asked to explain the salary cap, Rawlins made some interesting comments regarding the cap. While some MLS owners have been quick to silence any talk of a higher cap, as they want to keep expenditures low, Rawlins said he sees the salary cap increasing in the coming years. He said the strength of competition and the strength of rosters are improving. This statement was important because it showed that, unlike some owners in the league, Orlando City’s front office is willing to spend large amounts of money to win if they are given the opportunity.


Rawlins said that he's been pleasantly surprised about how many players, both domestic and foreign, want to play for the club. He said its place that players want to be. "There is lots of interest in what we're doing as a football club," Rawlins says noting that they always look after their players. He said the players spread the word about how much they enjoy playing for the club which enhances the club's reputation.


Rawlins said that Kaká has been a tremendous asset to both the club and the league. He's been a great leader helping the younger players develop. He always wants to win and has been great ambassador for the club. Rawlins said that, while obviously Orlando City gains the most, the whole league has benefited from his arrival as opposing teams draw their biggest crowds when the Lions are in town.


Reflecting on Eight Years with The Mane Land

A look back over my time with The Mane Land (so far).



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

As of last week, I have been a contributor at The Mane Land for eight years. That’s longer than I’ve ever been at any of my actual jobs in my life. There are literally only a couple of people who have been with the site longer, but I’m still amazed at how long it’s been. This is not to say I’m going anywhere, but rather I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at the past eight years, and look ahead to the future.

Unlike some, I didn’t come to be a supporter of Orlando City until it was announced that the club was joining MLS. At the time, I was contemplating picking a club to follow in MLS, but being in Tallahassee, there were no nearby options at that time. I considered FC Dallas and D.C. United, given the two were geographically closer in proximity to me than any others. Fortunately, it was literally while I was considering my options that the announcement was made regarding Orlando City’s jump to MLS. It was an easy decision.

As I do in many aspects of my life, I immediately started researching my new club, which led me to the content being produced by The Mane Land. There was also an article on the site titled “Join The Mane Land Staff.” I had often over the years internally bemoaned that I rarely used my Bachelor’s degree in English, and the desire to write welled up in me so much that I emailed the staff. 

In response, one of our former editors, Andrew Marcinko, contacted me and said “I think your voice would be a great fit on TML.” He asked me to submit a Fan Post (those went away with our presence on SBN), and then another piece for review. Following that, our founder and managing editor, Michael Citro, emailed me to welcome me to the staff. I had no idea at the time how big a part of my life this blog would become.

I started out writing Monday’s Lions Links — often one of the more difficult days to write — and a feature piece. It’s been many years gone by now, but there was a time when the feature piece was “Pride Pub,” an ongoing series that paired craft beer and good food based on Orlando City’s opponent. I can tell you that the research for that was very enjoyable, and I still use some of the recipes I found to this day.

Eventually, I started contributing more match coverage and analytical pieces. Staff came and went, but I never thought to leave since I was enjoying myself. Sometime after that, I was promoted to senior columnist, for which I’m grateful. I can without reservation say that I’m a better writer thanks to my time with the site, and from working with such excellent staff.

In November of 2016, Michael asked if I wanted to give co-hosting The Mane Land PawedCast a try. My first recording was for Episode 71. We just recorded Episode 354, and with the exception of maybe two or three episodes, I have been on every single one of 283 episodes over the last six plus years. Michael and I have spent a lot of time talking on and off the podcast over the years, and I’m proud of what we have produced and to call him my friend.

We recently added an Orlando Pride-specific podcast called Skopurp: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. For years we wanted to give the Pride the time and attention the club deserves. Now, it is a reality, but one that I ask you to listen to and share. I’ll even put out that although Michael and I are the current hosts, we merely consider ourselves stewards and are hoping to get others to come onboard and eventually take it to the next level.

When I started with The Mane Land, the site had just made the move from a free WordPress site to the SBNation network. It was a big deal, and for many years it was a good partnership. Of course that all came to an end not too long ago, and our blog went the independent route thanks to the incredibly generous support of our readers and listeners. In fact, if you want to be one of those supporting our efforts, please go to our Buy Me A Coffee site to become a member. The move has allowed a flexibility we didn’t have before, but I really want others to have the same sense of joy and accomplishment that I have as a member of our staff. 

At one point we had nearly twice the staff that we do now, and as you know, many hands make light work. The opposite of that is also true. I genuinely believe that there must be others out there with the same passion for Orlando City as I have — with the same desire to have their voice heard, whether through the written word or on a podcast. I promise you there is an opportunity to contribute here with us. Our internal discussions are informative, engaging, and often funny. Please consider joining us, as I did eight years ago. I haven’t regretted it and I know you won’t either.

I want to thank all of those who contributed to The Mane Land over the years. There are many that I am still in touch with, though they are no longer a part of the staff. Of course, the current staff are a pleasure to work with, and I appreciate their dedication to what we are trying to do.

Finally, I want to thank the readers and listeners over the years. From those who regularly comment on our articles, to those that I’ve personally met at matches or even randomly on the street, you are a big reason that we do all of this. You are a big reason why I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. it is always a genuine pleasure hearing your thoughts or simply sharing a moment of joy together — U.S. Open Cup final, anyone?

So, thank you. I look forward to many more years of this journey together.

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Orlando City

The Mane Land Announces Membership Program

Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.



Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.

You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.

The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.

The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)

Supporting TML helps build a better TML for you to enjoy, so you’re really subscribing to your own Orlando soccer fandom.

Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)

We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).

For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.

Current Benefits

The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.

Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.

TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.

Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.

The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.

Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration

While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.

We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.

Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.

The Most Important Part of This Post

Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.

The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.

No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.

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Welcome Home!



Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.

Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.

Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.

We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)

I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.

Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.

Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.

We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.

Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.

For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.


Michael Citro
Managing Editor

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