Goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, currently plays in Major League Soccer (MLS) for the Chicago Fire and is also a member of the US Men’s National Team. Go on the road with Johnson this year as he gives you a player’s view into each MLS city, as only he can do.
The much anticipated 2016 MLS season has finally kicked off and after a record setting amount of goals in the first weekend, I can only imagine how thrilling and explosive the rest of the season will be. After a short trip back home to Chicago, it was time to pack my bags again and hit the road.
Next up, Orlando! This was a special road trip for me since I attended the University of Central Florida, right in the heart of “O-town.” So many unforgettable memories of ramen noodles, tailgating, and long boarding trying to get to class on time. Go Knights!
Being one of the biggest tourist attraction destinations in the United States (does Disney World sound familiar?), Orlando attracts a melting pot of different people who all want to experience the magic and heightened imagination that surrounds the city. That magic has really come to life downtown with the Orlando City SC franchise coming into the MLS last year.
I sat down with, Aurélien Collin, a defender for the Orlando City Lions, for the Frenchman’s in-depth look into what makes Orlando a place you fans should put on the travel list this year to catch a game:
SJ: What is the vibe of Orlando?
AC: The vibe of Orlando is very relaxed. When people hear about Orlando they think about the parks. It’s so much more than this. Of course there is this crazy, imaginary world of parks like Disney and Universal. They are amazing! Honestly, I was not a fan but when I came to Orlando I went to both of them and they are amazing. It’s a great city, pretty big, very relaxed, very safe. You can find a little bit of everything. If you want some good European vibe you go to Winter Park. If you want to be more quiet you go to Lake Mary. You can get anything. There are some places where there are more people, less people. And of course you’re close by the beach.
SJ: The parks are fun for young and old alike. You mentioned you’ve been to Universal and Disney, what was it like?
AC: Universal is, believe me, I was not a Harry Potter fan but when I went there I was amazed. There is something for everybody. It’s a great reflection of the city. If you go to the park you can find something good for babies, a teenager, for adults and then if you want to find a water park, there’s everything here. Sea World, something for every age.
SJ: If you had one restaurant fans had to go to in Orlando, what would it be?
AC: I love wine and there is a restaurant named the Wine Barn, it’s very similar to Europe because you pay for the wine at market price. They have great small dishes and great pizza, the Italian kind with a very skinny (crust). I love meat and I go to Boi Brazil.
SJ: If fans are looking for a place to watch the game and grab a pint, is there a place to go in Orlando?
AC: The Grand Bohemian hotel downtown is quiet and fits my style. The supporters bar is the Hammered Lamb, a very famous bar.
SJ: What’s the best time of year to visit Orlando?
AC: I think March or April because it’s still a little bit cold. It’s cool at night and hot during the day. Californian weather right now so it’s great.
SJ: What’s the best way to get around town?
AC: Do you know the Sun Rail? Is very beautiful and you can take the train. It takes you to the stadium too.
SJ: Give me your sales pitch on Orlando:
AC: Amazing atmosphere. Cool city. People coming from all around the world. Great fans, the Iron Lion Firma and The Ruckus do their singing in English, Portuguese and Spanish. It’s a great reflection of the team and this city.