Orlando City fans take center stage for wrong reason

Orlando City issued a statement regarding the behavior of some of its supporters, who threw hundreds of plastic bottles and cans onto the field near the end of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta United. The loss snapped Orlando City’s six-game win streak and extended Atlanta United’s unbeaten streak against the Lions to four games.

The statement read: “Orlando City SC does not support or condone the actions taken by fans at Orlando City Stadium during Sunday’s match against Atlanta United. Fans are strictly prohibited from throwing debris or objects onto the field. The Club is using available resources to identify offenders, who will be penalized for their behavior in accordance with Major League Soccer and Orlando City Stadium regulations.

“Orlando City SC takes great pride in the passion of its supporters and how them make Orlando City Stadium the most difficult venue to play at in MLS, but the safety of the fans, players officials and staff members is our top priority.”

Orlando City supporters twice threw debris onto the field.

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The first time happened after Josef Martinez converted a penalty kick in the 10th minute. The second time,  with much more debris, happened during injury time when referee Alan Kelly declined to call a foul on Leandro Gonalez Pirez following a tackle in injury time.

Neither Atlanta United goalkeeper Alec Kann nor centerback Miles Robinson said they were struck by anything thrown. Kann said the atmosphere is always going to be intense, but throwing things isn’t good.

Because the supporters are so close to the pitch, Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said there is a lot of pressure. Martino complimented Kelly for not being influenced by the supporters.

“You can tell that it’s a beautiful environment,” Martino said. “I think the fans are great, it’s a good environment here. It’s unfortunate what happened at the end because it’s great that the fans want to support their team all game but if there’s a missed call or if there is in disagreement with something the referee said then I think there are better ways to express it, maybe with some kind of chant.”

When pointed out that Orlando City supporters did have a chant, one that repeated the same four-letter word followed by Atlanta, over and over, Martino said, “I know they had chants and Atlanta fans had chants on Wednesday for the ref at home, too. But I think you can’t throw things on the field.”

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