Big Orlando Sporting Weekend Gets Into Gear

Filed under: Orlando Events,Orlando Sport |

This weekend is one of the biggest for sporting events in the Orlando and Central Florida area. Yesterday saw us at the All-Star Celebrity Invitational to see some of the well known names from the world of sport, movie and television tee it up for the Arnold Palmer charities at Bay Hill. The event was a huge success and a lot of money was raised for charity. Everyone had a great deal of fun and we captured those moments so you could share in with them. We’ve put a few of them here but many more can be found at

From there, we made the short journey to the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World to see the opening games of the Pro Soccer Classic where Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City drew 0-0 and Vancouver Whitecaps beat Montreal Impact 3-0.  Today, see’s the day when our own Orlando City enter the eight team tournament, including six MLS teams, when they take on Toronto FC. Photos are at

Last year, Orlando City went in to the Disney Pro Soccer Classic as an unknown.  The club had spent just over a week in training camp, but surprised the American soccer world with a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union.  After a strong showing against FC Dallas, the then-reigning MLS Cup runner-up, the Lions faced a Toronto side who was in the midst of establishing a new system under first-year Head Coach Aron Winter.  The situation looks to be different this year.

“I think that Toronto will be a lot better than they were last year,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath.  “It has been a complete overhaul of their squad during the off-season. There’s some pressure on Toronto because they have the squad they want and it’s time for them to start playing.”

The wildcard for Toronto FC this year is their preparation for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.  Their first CCL match is March 7 against reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy.  The question remains: will TFC be focused on the tournament at hand, or the one down the road?

For Orlando City, the focus is clear.  A strong showing in the tournament helped springboard the Lions to a league championship season.  It also helped establish the club’s reputation for match fitness, an advantage gained by starting training camp two to three weeks earlier than any club in USL PRO.

“It’s a bit of both training our new guys into the system while also wanting to win,” said Heath. “We want to get everybody fit for the start of the season. The beauty of that is that we have time, with our season starting on April 7. But I’m also mindful that we want to be competitive. We want to put a good show on.  We just can’t forget training our three new players in the central midfield, which is very important to our system here, with them (Anthony Pulis, James O’Connor and John Rooney) getting used to our game.”

The game starts at 6pm and tickets are still available at the ESPN Box Office if you’d like to go along and support the Lions. You effectively get two games for the price of one as BK Hacken from Sweden take on FC Dallas at 8pm.

Tomorrow sees the 54th annual DAYTONA 500 – “The Great American Race” and it will feature a total of 43 cars and drivers. Lenny Kravitz will perform the pre-race concert while Pat Monahan of the multiplatinum, three-time Grammy-winning group Train will sing the National Anthem.  The top six qualifiers are:

1. (99)  Carl Edwards, Ford, 194.738 mph.
2. (16)  Greg Biffle, Ford, 194.087 mph.
3. (88)  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 194.028 mph.
4. (9)  Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 193.999 mph.
5. (13)  Casey Mears, Ford, 193.844 mph.
6. (24)  Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 193.803 mph.

The race begins at 1pm and if that doesn’t get your heart beating you can always nip over to Disney as the Pro Soccer Classic continues as Vancouver take on Houston at 1pm and Sporting Kansas take on Montreal at 3pm!

Once the excitement of that comes to a close we then have the NBA All-Star game to look forward to!

The NBA All-Star Game will be telecast Sunday in 215 countries, including Mongolia and Thailand, but more astonishing is how the game will reach millions through social media.

“Last year, we had 1 million fans in China following us on social media. This year we have 41 million,” said Matt Brabants, NBA senior vice president of international media distribution. People want to see what’s going on in Orlando,” Brabants said. The game will air live at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

Oh! And did we mention that it’s the same night as the Oscars? Spoilt for choice… you will be. 🙂



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