By Austin David (@AustinDavid22)
After existing only as the Florida Cup for the last seven years, the newly minted FC Series took its talents across the country, with multiple teams and venues spanning a week-long stretch of matches.
After switching from a winter to summer schedule last year, the FC Series took a massive leap forward, bringing in Premier League giants Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC, along with Club América from Mexico and two MLS sides, Orlando City and expansion side Charlotte FC.
In all three matches that Chelsea participated in, an average of almost 55,000 fans attended, with the final fixture against London rivals Arsenal breaking a Camping World Stadium record for soccer matches, with 63,811 in attendance.
Arsenal, who played two matches and won both, were declared the winners of the Florida Cup after beating Chelsea 4-0 this past Saturday.
“It was spectacular,” Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta said after the game, “It was fun, and the fans really added a beautiful dynamic to the match tonight. We were grateful that so many fans decided to attend, especially in this heat, and they added a great atmosphere to tonight’s game.”
The fans throughout the week also got to attend various exclusive events with their favorite teams from across the pond, including open practices, trivia events, meet and greets, and much more.
While the teams from across the pond were a big focus for many worldwide, the experience was also a massive boon for the two MLS sides that took part.
Orlando held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw at halftime before eventually falling to the Gunners 3-1; however, the Lions' young start Facundo Torres scored the only goal that Arsenal conceded during their US tour, giving the Orlando team some exposure on the global scale.
“I was happy to see a very enjoyable game for the fans against a fantastic rival,” Lions coach Oscar Pareja said, “We brought the heat to Orlando and competed with them in front of our fans, so that was pretty good. A lot of good things happened to us, and it was a great experience for the boys.”
In front of an announced 52,673, Charlotte took Chelsea to penalties after scoring in the last moments of stoppage time, thanks to Daniel Rios’ penalty. Polish international Kamil Jóźwiak scored the game-winning penalty in the shootout to seal a famous win for the MLS expansion team.
“I'm very happy for the boys. I'm very proud of them because they worked very hard,” Charlotte interim coach Christian Lattanzio said, “ They (Chelsea) couldn't play the football so fluidly because I think our guys were determined to work hard and to press for the whole game. So, I'm very proud of the way we played. Getting the win was like the cherry on the cake.”
With that, the 2022 FC Series has come to an end, but stay tuned for news on next year’s teams and venues that will be participating.