[Originally posted on the now-defunct “Aztexan” blog.]

Orlando City SoccerBless your hearts, you beautiful Orlando Beautiful City Beautiful Soccer Beautiful Club fans.

I’m torn, honestly. I’ve already gone public with my wishes for Orlando’s fate, which were not charitable wishes. Yet I can’t help but feel some pity, too. I was once as you, starry-eyed and hopeful, never dreaming of how badly it would end here.

And if you’re soccer fans, you’re still my brethren (and sistren). I can’t stand the Dynamo or their fans, either, but I’d take them over your typical NFL knucklehead any day of the week.

In that spirit of brother- (and sister-) hood, here are a few pitfalls to watch out for when dealing with a Rawlins-run soccer franchise.

  • Never, ever pay full face value for tickets — They ran so many specials, especially on those social coupon sites like Groupon, and gave away so many freebies, that fans who exclusively used those here in Austin made out better, even, than season ticket holders.

  • Don’t buy season tickets — See the previous note, as far as as any savings you might get. But still, you might be tempted to buy season tickets to “show your support”, just as many of us (granted, apparently not enough of us) did here.

    That would seem to make sense, wouldn’t it? Seems like it would give the organization the assurance of a certain number of committed fans, right? Well, it turns out that you might as well keep your money in your account until game day. According to Mr. Rawlins’ quote in the Austin American-Statesman, season tickets don’t actually amount to jack shit:

    Asked why season-ticket holders weren’t made aware of the team’s financial struggles, Rawlins said: “Why would they be? When you’re talking about investment on the scale and the range we’re talking about, you’re talking about investment from business people and executives in the community, not a season-ticket holder.”

  • Don’t join whatever premium fan club thing they cook up — Buy a t-shirt or scarf or stadium seat or whatever freebie they offer separately (if you even want it), and keep the hundred bucks. And don’t be tempted by offers of an exclusive online forum as part of the package. BigSoccer has its flaws, but it has one big upside as far as online message boards go: there are more than five posts per season there.

  • Don’t take the brown acid — The brown acid that is circulating around us is not specifically too good. It’s suggested that you do stay away from that. Of course it’s your own trip, so be my guest, but please be advised that there is a warning on that one, okay? Wait, sorry; scratch this one, I was thinking of something else entirely.

  • Don’t think the owners are your friends — The Rawlinses are very nice, very charming people. They and the other investors will probably be very visible to fans, and you may meet them. By all means, enjoy that, it’s part of the fun. Just be sure to keep one thing in mind: despite the very friendly demeanor, they are not your friends. They’re the owners of a business, and you’re a customer. Nothing more.

    They’re like an Applebee’s franchisee, say. And you never know, they may have to close the one in your neighborhood, so that they can open another one the next town over, by the highway and the Wal-Mart. If so, don’t expect any special treatment because of any “friendship” with them, because there is no such thing. Nothing personal! It’s just business.

  • Don’t volunteer — Of course, the whole reason the franchise moved to Orlando was the piles of money waiting for them there, so surely they won’t have to ask a bunch of poor slobs to help run their business for them. The owners are millionaires, after all, and they’re shooting for the big leagues.

    But if they do, somehow, have the cojones to ask for volunteer help, don’t be a sucker. If you want to help people, find an actual charity to do it for, not a for-profit business venture. In the meantime, if they need more help selling lukewarm bottles of Powerade for $5 at the concession stand, then let them come back early from vacationing at their house in Portugal to do it.

All right! With these handy tips, you’re ready to go! Once next season rolls around, just pack the wife (or husband) and kids in the minivan and head on out to join 69,996 of your fellow Beautiful City Beautiful Soccer Club Beauty fans at the spacious! the capacious! the rapacious! the pretty much ideal stadium you have there for a Division 3 expansion team: the Citrus Bowl.

Go visitors!