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Orlando City fans organize FIFA 20 tournament during MLS coronavirus break

Without any regular season MLS action, Orlando City fans found a way to get their soccer fix by playing in a FIFA 20 tournament.

Orlando City fans cheer on the Lions during a match last season at Exploria Stadium. (Jason Beede/Pro Soccer USA)

As MLS finishes its third week of suspension, Orlando City fans are turning to a different outlet to get their soccer fix — FIFA 20.

The video game has been a popular outlet for soccer fans around the world who are missing their favorite game. Clubs throughout the league have participated in simulations of their previously scheduled games and Orlando City participated in an international charity tournament.

Orlando City fan Logan Oliver took it a step further last week, organizing a tournament for Orlando City fans.

Oliver had tried to plan FIFA tournaments in the past, but they always fell apart. Fellow supporters were eager to play together, but it was difficult to coordinate an hours-long window when Orlando City fans would all be available — and not at a Lions game.

With the MLS season suspended and the city under a stay-at-home order, however, those logistical challenges didn’t pose as big of a problem. A few fellow supporters reached out to Oliver, and he set it up — two bracketed tournaments for PlayStation and XBox users.

Within a week, Oliver had received sign-up requests from close to 40 fans. The tournament took place on Saturday and Sunday, with the championship matches streamed live on Twitch.

New Orlando City PA announcer Timothy Barr even got in on the action. When the season was initially suspended, Barr went out and bought the newest editions of every major sports game, including NBA 2K20 and FIFA 20.

Barr joked he entered the tournament ready to talk some trash, but he was silenced quickly.

“Oh, I’m horrible at FIFA,” Barr said. “I learned that quickly. I couldn’t talk much trash because I was horrible.”

Barr’s run ended early — he lost in the opening round, then fell in the consolation bracket. But he still used both matches of his short-lived time in the tournament to brush up on his announcing, running a full-on call of the lineup.

To Oliver, the tournament offered a much-needed distraction from the coronavirus pandemic stress. As a supporter, he said he’s eager to see soccer return.

In the meantime, rewatching old games and playing FIFA will have to tide fans over until the season returns.

“I think Orlando City and sports in general are such an escape from the mundane routine of everyday life,” Oliver said. “It’s hard not being able to have that date circled on the calendar, knowing you can all kind of have something to look forward to something to in the future. It’s gonna be nice to have something else to get excited about.”

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