The Away End | Orlando City SC with Taylor Williams 


New York City Football Club host Orlando City SC on Sunday afternoon.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Taylor Williams, author and founder of international fan club Orlando City UK.

Hi Taylor, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been a fan of Orlando City?

I’ve been an Orlando City SC supporter since our inaugural 2015 MLS campaign. My family and I have vacationed to Orlando for over 30 years, and my parents used to have a holiday residence there. When I was a kid, I quickly gained a real affinity for the city, something that has continued on throughout my adolescence. A familiar destination I wanted to visit over and over again, what with the theme parks, famous Florida sunshine, and the array of all-American eats, it really is like a second home despite being over 4,000 miles away across the pond. Already familiar with and enthusiastic about MLS and US Soccer, when Don Garber announced Orlando City SC as an MLS franchise in November 2013, I knew this was the team for me.

What's been your highlight during that time?

It’s very recent, as recent as September this year, but I have to say, being there in person on the front row of The Wall to see Orlando City SC win our first major honor as an MLS club was a moment that will stay with me forever. Spending my honeymoon in Florida, and taking in a home game against Houston Dynamo in June, I had no clue I’d be back in The City Beautiful as soon as September. But thanks to the amazing generosity and selflessness of the online Orlando City SC community, they crowdfunded a trip for me to see us win the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup live and in person. Defeating Sacramento Republic 3-0 on the night is one of my most cherished football memories, alongside being a huge Arsenal supporter from birth.

How would you evaluate Orlando's season overall?

It’s been a strange season for Orlando City SC. Convincing one minute and unconvincing the next, the U.S. Open Cup triumph has completely sugarcoated what would be an otherwise up-and-down inconsistent campaign. Nevertheless, we currently find ourselves within a playoff qualification spot, and having put silverware in the trophy cabinet, with MLS Cup hopes still very much alive, you can’t be too disappointed. All in all, I would give our season a 7.5 out of 10 so far. Of course, that 7.5 can get much closer to a 10 if we successfully navigate our final 3 regular season games and make waves in the post-season.

Who would you predict as the team's dangerman heading into the game?

Facundo Torres. Much was expected of the young Uruguayan international when signed from Penarol in the off-season, especially considering the high-profile departures of key men Nani, Daryl Dike, and Chris Mueller. A player who has gotten better with each passing month, the past couple of months have seen Torres elevate his game to new heights. Now well and truly having found his feet in Major League Soccer, Torres almost single-handedly won us the U.S. Open Cup with his brace, earning him instant legendary status. A player with a really high ceiling, I hope he makes Uruguay’s squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and hope Orlando can keep hold of him for a little while yet before he likely departs for a higher level of soccer in Europe.

What do you think will be the deciding factor in Sunday's game?

Ultimately, who wants it more. NYCFC only have 2 regular season fixtures remaining, of which this is the first test, and come into this game after morale-boosting wins against Atlas to win the 2022 Campeones Cup and a 2-0 win over rivals New York Red Bulls in the Hudson River Derby. The latter result is only NYCFC’s second MLS win in 11 games so Nick Cushing and co will hope these significant victories can act as a springboard heading into the post-season. On the other hand, Orlando have 3 games remaining, including this one, and if we really have designs on a home game seeding in the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, this is a game we’re going to need to win, albeit a tough ask.

And do you have any predictions for Sunday's game?

My score prediction is 2-2.