Orlando City 2013 USL PRO Championship Match Preview

Orlando City Faces Charlotte 

Saturday In 2013 USL PRO Championship

Orlando City def Riverhounds
Photo by Allison Petro

Lions attempt to capture second postseason title against Eagles Saturday night

Orlando City SC (16-4-6, 54 points, No. 2 seed) hosts the Charlotte Eagles (10-5-11, 41 points, No. 5 seed) in the 2013 USL PRO Championship on Saturday, September 7, at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Lions attempt to capture a second postseason title in franchise history Saturday night, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

“This is the final game, and we know what we have to do,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We will have another great crowd at the Citrus Bowl Saturday night and we want to make them happy.”

Saturday’s opponent, Charlotte, upset the No. 1 seeded Richmond Kickers 2-1 last Saturday night to advance to the Championship.Midfielder Chris Ramirez scored his second goal of the postseason and Nate Thornton notched the final goal for the victory.

“Their front three players will cause different problems than most of the players in the league,” Heath continued. “I wasn’t surprised that Charlotte beat Richmond. We have to control possession and dictate the tempo of the game. I think if we can do that, we can win the game.”

Leading the Charlotte frontline is striker Jorge Herrera, who led the Eagles in scoring in 2013 with 10 goals. Charlotte is coached by Mark Steffens, who’s in his 17th year with the Eagles.

The Lions have played the Eagles twice in 2013, winning 1-0 in Orlando while ending in a 0-0 draw in Charlotte. The Lions have yet to fall to the Eagles in three years, compiling a 4-0-2 all-time record against the North Carolina side.

Orlando is in the Championship match for the first time since 2011. The Lions topped the Harrisburg City Islanders on penalty kicks two years ago, taking home the USL PRO Championship in the club’s inaugural season.

Tickets for the Championship game are available by calling (855) ORL-CITY. For more information on Saturday’s Championship match, stay tuned to OrlandoCitySoccer.com.

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Minor League Baseball at McKechnie Field

McKechnie Field
McKechnie Field

McKechnie Field in Bradenton is one of baseball’s best stadiums for spring training. It is quaint and has charm, even after its huge refurbishment completed earlier this year. The stadium has even been compared to the venerable Fenway Park in Boston. Home to spring training of the Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field was first built in 1923 and has been a part of the Grapefruit League for the Pirates since 1969.

Living in Bradenton, I’ve had the opportunity to catch many spring training games. McKechnie Field is a fantastic location that is literally a five minute drive from my house. On special nights there are sometimes fireworks, which I can see from my driveway about 20 blocks away. For the Pirates’ 40th Anniversary at McKechnie Field, lights were added to the stadium so night games could be played there finally. Baseball at night in Florida is great since it does tend to be pretty warm here.

In 2010, Minor League Baseball came to Bradenton in the form of the Bradenton Marauders, Pittsburgh’s single A team. The stadium seats about 8,500, which is a nice intimate feel where you can get seats very close to the field. This is a great feeling, especially during Spring Training when you can see some of your favorite players just feet away from you. In comparison to the Atlanta Braves’ location at Champion Stadium at Walt Disney World, McKechnie Field is about 1,000 seats smaller.

McKechnie Field seating chart
McKechnie Field seating chart

Accessibility is a key factor in getting to a game for me. I love baseball, and being able to decide last minute to catch a game and to pay less than $10 for a ticket day of game, is fantastic. You can even get advance tickets for about $6 which makes the games even that much more appealing. This weekend my mom and I were lucky enough to catch some great weather, which this time of year is a challenge. We decided last minute to go to the Marauder’s game since it was the last home game of the season.

I hadn’t been to McKechnie Field for a little over a year and a half and was very impressed with all of the new renovations. The concessions have been vastly improved as well as new restrooms added. In the outfield there is a great boardwalk section with tables and chairs along the outfield wall with great views. The food is relatively affordable and so are drinks as far as baseball food goes. Our tickets were about $17 for the two of us, mom had a bbq pulled pork sandwich, I had an Italian sausage and we split nachos for about another $17. Then we each had a 24 ounce premium draft beer for $6.50 each. That to me was a huge steal, especially since it was at the Kona bar where they had Koko Brown, Longboard Lager, Fire Rock Pale Ale and Big Wave Golden Ale on draft.

We had great seats about 7 or 8 rows behind the Marauder’s dugout just a little behind first base. The game was pretty slow at first, but the Marauders pulled out the win, with a rally in the bottom of the 8th to beat the Fort Myers Miracle 3-2. In each half inning there are great games to keep the fans involved, especially the kids. This includes things like hula hoop contest, frozen tshirt contest, dizzy bat run, and many more. The kids seem to be really interested in these and they are fun to keep the adults entertained too.

After the game there was a special fireworks show for the last game at McKechnie Field of the season. They will also do special nights throughout the summer where they do the fireworks, in addition to holidays like 4th of July. There are great areas for groups to reserve and quite a few were in use the other night. They were setup in roped off sections of the boardwalk area with buffet stations for dinner. This seemed like a fun way to experience the game with a group of friends.

All in all, McKechnie Field is a great place to experience baseball, whether for the Pirates during spring training or for the Marauders games that usually run from April through August. If you get an opportunity, I strongly encourage you to check out this great baseball stadium that is a fantastic place just minutes from the Gulf Beaches. Parking fees usually run from $5-10 in area parking lots around the stadium.

McKechnie Field boardwalk
McKechnie Field boardwalk
Kona signs
Kona signs
Kona bar
Kona bar
view of the field from the Kona bar
view of the field from the Kona bar
view from our seats
view from our seats
panorama of McKechnie Field
panorama of McKechnie Field
outfield
outfield
love the Spanish Mission style
love the Spanish Mission style
Me at the game
Me at the game
Marty the Marauder
Marty the Marauder
Pretty clouds
Pretty clouds
Kids games
Kids games
Yuengling Plaza Bar
Yuengling Plaza Bar
Yuengling bar
Yuengling bar
Concession stand
Concession stand
Sunset
Sunset
Palm trees at night
Palm trees at night
Marauders logo
Marauders logo
Marty leading fans in Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Marty leading fans in Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks 2
Fireworks 2
Fireworks 3
Fireworks 3
Fireworks 4
Fireworks 4
Fireworks 5
Fireworks 5

Have you been to McKechnie Field? Have you been to either spring training or a minor league game before? If not, you have a few months to plan before spring training rolls around in the end of February. Get planning!

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