It was dramatic and the post-game celebration, both on the pitch and in the locker room, points to just how much it meant to Orlando City SC players.
But was Friday night’s penalty-kick win over LAFC that sent the Lions through to the MLS is Back Tournament semifinals the biggest result in the club’s MLS history? Coming off the huge quarterfinal victory, MLSsoccer.com's Calen Carr and Charlie Davies opined on the topic, and that got us thinking.
We've combed through some of the the most significant results, both in the league and U.S. Open Cup, since the club joined the league as an expansion team in 2015 and present this top 10 list.
10. Cyle Larin’s hat trick in New York (Sept. 25, 2015)
The Lions needed a win at Red Bull Arena to keep their playoff hopes alive and Larin, the Canadian international, put the expansion team on his shoulders. His second hat trick of the season led Orlando City SC to a 5-2 victory over the Red Bulls. In doing so, Larin set an MLS record for goals scored in a rookie season. He finished with 17 en route to winning MLS Rookie of the Year.
9. First home win (May 17, 2015)
It took a bit longer than the Lions faithful would have liked, but after six tries, Orlando City celebrated their first home win by turning in a dominant performance to smash the LA Galaxy 4-0 in front of a crowd of 40,122 at the Citrus Bowl.
8. Wildest Orlando win to date? (April 6, 2019)
This one had it all, ranging from an hour-plus weather delay, lead changes, superstar controversy and history made. When all was said and done, Nani put on a show with a brace and the Lions escaped with a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rapids to earn their first home victory of the 2019 season.
7. "Cardiac Cats" strike again (April 8, 2018)
During a string of late comebacks to start 2018, the “Cardiac Cats” came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against a Portland Timbers side that would make it to the MLS Cup final later that year. The Lions scored three times inside of the final 10 minutes with Dom Dwyer netting the dramatic winner three minutes from full time.
6. Exploria Stadium opener (March 5, 2017)
5. First win in MLS history (March 13, 2015)
In their second-ever match, the Lions won their first MLS match on the road at sold-out Houston. The goal that won it was a wild one. The answer to that trivia question? Pedro Ribeiro.
4. Dramatic win vs. Inter Miami (July 8, 2020)
It was the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament, the first competitive game in four months because of the COVID-19 stoppage and all eyes were on Orlando City SC and Inter Miami. It was also the first match in a budding Florida rivalry and the Lions came from behind to take a dramatic 2-1 win with Nani scoring the 97th-minute winner after Chris Mueller leveled in the 70th minute.
3. First game after Pulse tragedy (June 18, 2016)
The first match after the Pulse shooting was remarkable not for the final result, but for the emotional remembrances. Fans thought Julio Baptista had given the crowd and city a moment of joy with a stoppage-time winner, only for San Jose to tie it even deeper in stoppage time.
2. Orlando to the USOC semis! (July 10 2019)
Until Friday, the most dramatic penalty kick shootout win for OCSC came in the U.S. Open Cup as the Lions rebounded from Maxi Moralez’s stoppage-time equalizer to advance to their first-ever appearance in the semifinals via a wild shootout.
1. PK win vs. LAFC (July 31, 2020)
Yeah, no surprise here. Just when it appeared the Lions were set to bow out of the MLS is Back Tournament to pre-tournament favorites LAFC, Joao Moutinho leveled in the 90th minute and Orlando City SC made all five of their penalty kicks to stun last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners. For a team that is still seeking its first MLS Cup Playoffs appearance, it's hard to think of a much greater statement that a new era is here than a win in this setting against this type of opponent. What it means for the future remains to be seen, but this result may well be looked back on as a symbolic turning point in the history of the club, making it an easy choice for the top spot.