There is another legitimate competitor emerging for the Orlando sports entertainment dollar in Central Florida. The Orlando Apollos are fun, led by a legendary coach and, most importantly, at 2-0 they can lay claim to being the best team in the early goings of the inaugural season for the Alliance of American Football.
The Orlando Apollos orchestrated the best comeback through the first two weeks of play in the league, getting down 12-0 early and trailing throughout before coming back to beat the San Antonio Commanders 37-29 on Sunday at the Alamo Dome. In the winning effort, Orlando also produced the first 300-yard passer of the AAF season, Garrett Gilbert.
As usual, when these new football leagues pop up, our team in Central Florida is again proving to be among the class of the league. What is new and exciting about this organization is they also have a coach in Steve Spurrier that is an absolute box office draw in this town.
Spurrier has been dialing up trick plays and providing colorful commentary when mic'd up for the television broadcasts. There is no doubt that since he jumped on board, he has been the best salesman the Apollos could have asked for.
Up next for Orlando is a home date on Saturday against the Memphis Express. A crowd of over 20,000 is expected, which after an opening game that had a similar attendance, proves that the AAF is catching some steam and has staying power, at least locally.
What remains to be seen is how well the Alliance is set up for the future as a business and how each of the eight markets the league is currently in support their teams. After all, Orlando has always held up their end of the bargain when new football leagues roll into town, but that level of support has always been undermined by the state of the rest of the league.
Other Orlando sports headlines for the week
- It is exciting to be able to say that winning is in the air for Orlando's teams right now and the Orlando Magic will try to continue their pre-All-Star break success this week. The time off may have come at the worst possible time, with the franchise riding a five-game winning streak, but it also creates an interesting storyline to follow about whether they can keep it up. The Magic sit just a half game off of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and return to action on Friday at home against the Chicago Bulls.
- UCF men's basketball continues to remain in the NCAA Tournament hunt after home victories against USF and Memphis last week. The schedule gets noticeably harder for the Knights (19-5, 9-3) down the stretch. Two games against Cincinnati and a road contest at Houston provide opportunities for signature victories, but UCF needs to go at least 3-3 with the remaining games, plus win a game in the American Athletic Conference Tournament to get at-large consideration.
- Orlando City would certainly like to catch onto the winning ways going on in the City Beautiful recently and there might be a reason to think they have a shot. Orlando announced they have signed a well-known international player, Nani, as one of their designated players. Nani is best-known for his time with Manchester United, where he won the Premier League four times, and for his international play with Portugal. The midfield has been one of the areas that have perennially doomed the club in the MLS era so this signing has to be seen as a move in the right direction.
Photo credit: Orlando Apollos