If you had any sort of interaction with the Iron Lion Firm, chances were you ran across Miguel Vasquez.
He was that ingrained in the supporters group, said ILF President Rodrigo Guillen. One of the first members of the Iron Lion Firm, the capo was always around when he was needed – and he did his best to inject the same enthusiasm into supporters who manned The Wall on match days.
He was particularly involved when it came to the creation of tifos, Guillen said.
Saturday, the stand where Vasquez made his voice heard week-in and week-out will be empty, save for the tributes his friends place before Orlando City’s match against the New York Red Bulls. For the second time in just over five months, the Orlando City SC supporters community is dealing with the loss of one of its own.
Vasquez, 25, died in a car crash on March 26.
“A pillar,” Guillen said of Vasquez. “His involvement was in everything you could possibly imagine. He never had a leadership role, but the way he acted, how he presented himself, he was very much a leader and he led by example.”
Guillen said Vasquez could have been considered quiet by those who didn’t know him well, but his friends knew him as a kindhearted person who had no problems pointing out those who weren’t giving their all as supporters on match day.
“If you weren’t singing, or jumping or clapping, you got called out,” Guillen said.
Since Vasquez’s death, there’s been an outpouring of support on social media. Vasquez, who worked in pharmaceutical deliveries, according to Guillen, was a caretaker for his mother. A GoFundMe page was started by the Iron Lion Firm to help with Vasquez’s funeral expenses, as well as to provide financial support for his mother and sister.
We are saddened to hear of the loss of supporter and capo, Miguel Vasquez. Our thoughts are with his friends and family. #ForeverALion
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 28, 2018
As of Friday evening, the page has raised more than $13,000. It’s been shared nearly 700 times with support from Orlando City SC co-founder Kay Rawlins, as well as players like midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
Kljestan also donated $500 to the fundraiser, as did The Ruckus — who in November were hit with the news of the death of Joseph Campo Jr. — and Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão.
“It floored a lot of us,” Guillen said about the support for the page.
Guillen said because Vasquez’s mother wanted to be present for any large tribute to her son, the Iron Lion Firm is going to wait until Orlando City’s April 7 match against Portland to do something big for Vasquez.
His funeral service is Saturday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Funeraria Porta Coeli in Kissimmee.
“The capo stand where he stood and led chants from will be unmanned,” Guillen said. “We’ll drape it in a Colombia flag. He used to wear a specific ILF tank top, so that will be on the front. We’re asking members to bring flowers if they feel compelled to do so. We’ll leave that stand physically empty, but his presence will be there.”