ORLANDO – If the wearing of pink has come to be associated with a health care statement, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is hoping that wearing purple this weekend means a solid boost for the city’s economy — and plenty of entertainment for soccer fans.
The purple, of course, refers to T-shirts that encourage area residents to “Paint The City Purple” right up through Friday, when the 2012 United Soccer League’s Pro Playoffs semi-final will be held at the Florida Citrus Bowl, followed by the Championship Game on Saturday, Sept. 8.
The goal: to encourage as many Central Floridians as possible to watch as Orlando City Soccer enters the playoff series as the top team in the league and as the defending USL Pro Champions.
Tickets are $15 for Friday night’s game, available to order by calling 1-855-ORL-CITY – and, as the mayor noted, “There are still tickets available.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Dyer and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan joined together in front of City Hall for an Orlando City Soccer Playoff Pep Rally to support the team as they enter the USL playoffs.
It was an opportunity for city residents to show up and meet the Orlando City Lions soccer players, to take photos with the USL Pro Championship trophy, and, of course, pick up one of those purple t-shirts to wear.
“These good looking guys behind me are the Orlando City Lions, and I want to congratulate all the coaches and players,” Dyer said. “The Orlando City Lions have the best soccer fans in the world behind them.”
The team is equally thrilled to be here in the city, said Phil Rawlins, the owner and president of the Orlando City Lions.
“We were delighted last year to bring a regular city title and then major championship here,” Rawlins said.
On March 4, 2010, the USL announced that a pro club was coming to Orlando, and on Oct. 25, 2010, the club unveiled its name as the Orlando City Lions.
Last year was a busy one for the Lions. In April 2011, the team had its first Road Win against the Charlotte Eagles, and on June 4 2011, its first locally television match, followed by its first U.S. Open Cup match – and win.
The first International Win came on July 23 against Newcastle United of England.
Rawlins said the Lions are gearing up for the Championship match here on Sept. 8, and the team hopes it won’t be the last one.
“We’re looking forward to bringing another major championship to this city,” he said.
Mayor Dyer used the pep rally to encourage everyone in Orlando to wear purple on game days during the playoffs.
“I’m in my purple today,” Dyer said. “The playoffs begins this Friday at 7:30 (p.m.) at the Citrus Bowl, where the Lions will defeat the Wilmington Hammerheads.”
In only their second year in this city, the Orlando City Soccer Club is looking to defend its USL Pro Championship and earn their second straight league title. To do that, the Lions will have to win the second-round playoffs match-up.
Dyer said that outcome was something he had a lot of confidence in.
And with the help of the Lions, Dyer added, “We’re looking to becoming the next major soccer city.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.