Orlando City SC
Orlando City Soccer Club is an American professional soccer club in Orlando, Florida, that competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer (MLS). Orlando City SC began play in 2015 as an expansion team and is the first MLS franchise in the state since Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny folded following the 2001 season. The team plays at Exploria Stadium in Downtown Orlando.
|Full name||Orlando City Soccer Club|
|Founded||November 19, 2013|
|Owner||Flávio Augusto da Silva (majority) |
Phil Rawlins (minority)
|Head coach||Óscar Pareja|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2019||Eastern Conference: 11th|
Playoffs: Did not qualify
On October 25, 2010, Phil Rawlins and his investor group of Orlando City Soccer Club, announced their intentions of joining Major League Soccer within the next three to five years. On February 28, 2011, Orlando City announced it met with commissioner Don Garber and league officials concerning expansion. Topics covered included the demographics of the Orlando marketplace, the local corporate and fan support for soccer, and developing a roadmap for a future MLS franchise in Orlando. Orlando City team officials met with Commissioner Don Garber again on November 10, 2011 for further discussions about joining the MLS as its 20th club (which ultimately went to New York City) in 2013.
On March 1, 2012, Garber visited Orlando to meet with city and county officials. He stated, "It's not a matter of if, but when", when addressing Orlando's chances of joining MLS. On August 31, 2012, Rawlins told the Orlando Business Journal the team could get the Major League Soccer approval as early as late 2013, and be ready to play in the league by 2014 or 2015. Rawlins said to make that happen, the league had asked the team to explore building a 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium. "They didn't say we had to have a stadium built before we could join, but they at least would like a plan that it's happening."
On November 19, 2013, Orlando City SC was announced as the league's twenty-first franchise. The team's new logo was unveiled in May 2014 and the team signed their first player to an MLS contract, former Brazil international Kaká, a month later. Kaká, who also became the team's first Designated Player after his release from A.C. Milan, was immediately loaned to São Paulo until the start of the season. In the same month, Orlando City announced a partnership with Benfica. As part of that partnership, Orlando City later signed two players from the Benfica's U19s – Estrela and Rafael Ramos – to MLS contracts on August 7, 2014. On November 21, 2014, Adrian Heath signed a contract extension committing him to the club through to the end of the 2017 MLS season. As an expansion team, Orlando had first pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, and used it to pick Canadian forward Cyle Larin.
The team hosted their first MLS game at the Citrus Bowl on March 8, 2015, against fellow expansion team New York City FC, in front of a crowd of 62,510. Kaká scored the club's first goal in stoppage time to earn a 1–1 draw. In the following game, they defeated Houston Dynamo 1–0 on the road, marking their first victory. On March 21, Orlando conceded a late stoppage time goal to Octavio Rivero of Vancouver Whitecaps for their first defeat. In their inaugural season Orlando City finished 7th in the Eastern Conference and 14th in the overall standings, falling short of the playoffs by one point. Larin scored 17 goals across the season, breaking Damani Ralph's record of 13 as a rookie and earned the MLS Rookie of the Year Award.
Midway through the 2016 season, following disappointing results and performance of the team, long time head coach Adrian Heath was fired in July 2016. In that same month, Orlando City announced Jason Kreis as the franchise's new head coach. However, the Lions ended the season missing the playoffs once again.
In 2017, the Lions moved to the purpose built Orlando City Stadium. The team once again struggled and attempted to improve during the summer transfer window by acquiring Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer who had played for Orlando City's USL Pro team on-loan in 2013, most notably scoring 4 goals in the USL Pro Championship Final. The club traded incentives totaling to $1.6 million, a record trade between two clubs within MLS. At the end of the season, Kaká announced that he would not return for Orlando City and soon after confirmed his retirement.
Fifteen games into the 2018 season, Orlando City released head coach Jason Kreis after a 6–8–1 record to start the season and an overall 21–29–14 MLS record over nearly two seasons. Two weeks later, USL club Louisville City FC announced head coach James O'Connor, a former defender and assistant coach of the original Orlando City franchise, was to become Kreis's replacement. However, O'Connor only managed 2 wins in his 18 games in charge in 2018 as City missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and also set a new MLS record with 74 goals conceded on the year. O'Connor was fired at the end of the 2019 season with the team having missed out on playoffs again and remaining 11th in the Eastern Conference.
In April 2013, the City of Orlando purchased downtown land for $8.2 million to be used towards the construction of a $110 million MLS soccer stadium. However, in May, the Florida House of Representatives failed to vote on a bill that had passed the Senate that would have provided up to $30 million in state funds towards the stadium project. Rawlins responded by expressing his intent to find alternative funding and keep seeking MLS expansion. The mechanism to allow for the sales tax rebate for the MLS team was ultimately passed on April 25, 2014.
The Orlando downtown soccer stadium moved closer to securing funding on August 8, 2013, when Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer reached an agreement on a deal to provide financial support for a variety of Orlando projects including the new MLS soccer stadium. The last piece in stadium funding was an October 2013 vote on using an existing tourism tax to fund the final quarter of the $80 million stadium project. On October 22, 2013, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted 5–2 to approve the use of $20 million in tourist development tax funds to build an $84 million multi-purpose soccer stadium in downtown Orlando.
On May 29, 2015, after two years trying to get funding from the state of Florida, Augusto da Silva announced that the stadium would be built with 100% private funds and would be owned and operated by the club. He also announced the capacity would be increased to between 25,000 and 28,000 and that the club would buy the initial location from the City of Orlando.
On March 5, 2017, Orlando City hosted New York City FC in the stadium's inaugural match to begin the 2017 season. Cyle Larin scored the first goal in stadium history as Orlando City won 1–0 in front of a sellout crowd of 25,550.
The stadium has also played host to several nationally relevant matches. On October 6, 2017, the United States Men's National Team played its 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Panama in the stadium. The following week the 2017 NWSL Championship game between North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns was also played there.
On June 4, 2019, the naming rights to the stadium were sold to Florida-based time share and vacation rental company Exploria Resorts. As a result, the stadium was renamed Exploria Stadium.
Camping World Stadium
Prior to the completion of Orlando City's soccer specific stadium, the Lions had occupied the then-named Citrus Bowl for their first two seasons in Major League soccer, which the team had also invested in for renovations. In the opening home matches of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Orlando City ran their "fill the bowl" campaign, which led to sell-out crowds of over 60,000. Orlando City had averaged over 30,000 in attendance in their home matches while using the stadium.
MLS dissolved its reserve league in 2014. Like most MLS teams, Orlando now has a USL affiliate by way of Orlando City B, a USL League One team based at Montverde Academy. Orlando City originally had an affiliation agreement with Louisville City FC, the club that bought the USL license from the owners of the Orlando City. The agreement provided that Orlando City will loan at least four players to Louisville City during the season. In 2016, Orlando City ended their affiliation with Louisville and began its own USL expansion franchise OCB who originally played at Titan Soccer Complex. The team played two seasons in USL before going on hiatus in 2018. The team returned in 2019 following a league restructure and became a founding member of USL1, the third tier of the US Soccer pyramid.
In 2010, the founding year of Orlando City's original USL franchise, the team allied with Central Florida Kraze of the Premier Development League to assist player development. Following their successful first season, Orlando City acquired a controlling interest in the Kraze and renamed them Orlando City U-23. The team has a legacy that includes several current and past MLS players, and won the PDL Championship in 2004. In lieu of OCB's creation, the U-23 team was folded after the 2015 season.
After their 2011 season, Orlando City also acquired controlling interest in the Florida Soccer Alliance youth soccer club, renaming them Orlando City Youth Soccer Club. The club is now a member of the Elite Club National League (ECNL) and has several boys and girls teams competing at local, state and national level with age groups from 8 to 18.
In May 2019, the team announced plans to move all of Orlando City's development pyramid to one single shared facility, creating a 20-acre (8.1 ha) training complex at Osceola Heritage Park to house the senior MLS team, OCB and Development Academy. The site, in Kissimmee, Florida, will include four practice fields—three natural grass and one artificial turf—a fitness, training and recovery center; a players' lounge, meal room and a film room as well as 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) of office space for working staff and facilities to support media operations. Osceola County Stadium will be converted into a soccer-specific stadium and act as the home stadium of OCB. It was a vision first set out by executive VP of soccer operations, Luiz Muzzi, upon his appointment in December 2018 as a means of solidifying the in-house pipeline from youth to professional.
Colors and badge
The current logo of Orlando City was unveiled in 2014. The main aspects of the franchise's identity carried over from the previous logo of the USL pro team. New features and changes were introduced representing a transition, of the franchise, into the top tier of the United States' soccer pyramid. The logo consist of a gold Lion face with 21 sun flares as its mane in a purple shield, with a white outline being the official colors of the team. The number of flares represents the club as the twenty-first team in MLS, while the mane also forms a sun in reference to Florida's nickname as The Sunshine State. The team name is also seen in the logo in white.
Home, away, and third uniforms.
Orlando Health has been the official shirt sponsor for Orlando City SC since the team's inception as a USL franchise in 2010. In 2013, Orlando Health extended its partnership with the club, becoming the first jersey partner in MLS history to commit to an expansion club prior to its admittance to the league. Adidas also signed on as the club's kit provider for the 2015 season as per the league-wide deal made by MLS. The deal means that there are no longer third kits and only one kit (between the home and away) is permitted to change per season, rotating on an annual basis.
The club had sold over 13,000 season tickets before playing its first match in March 2015, and reached its cap by selling out all 14,000 available season tickets later that month. As of the 2017 season, Orlando City's season ticket base stands at a cap of 18,000.
The club has two major active supporters groups, which combine forces on game days to create "The Wall" now housed in the safe standing section: The Ruckus and The Iron Lion Firm. The Ruckus is the oldest of these groups founded in 2010, whose basis was formed in 2009 as the "Orlando Soccer Supporters Club" without an affiliation to any particular soccer team. The Iron Lion Firm separated from The Ruckus prior to the start of City's first season.
On March 3, 2015, the team announced all 60,000 available seats in the Citrus Bowl were sold out for the team's home opener versus New York City FC, and also announced they were close to selling out the second home game versus Vancouver Whitecaps FC. On April 21, 2015 the club announced it had reached its goal of 14,000 Season Ticket Members and was starting a waiting list moving forward. Orlando City averaged 32,847 fans in its first season, ranking second in MLS behind Seattle Sounders.
|14||Forward||Dom Dwyer (DP)|
|19||Forward||Benji Michel (HG)|
|31||Goalkeeper||Mason Stajduhar (HG)|
|33||Midfielder||Mauricio Pereyra (DP)|
|44||Defender||João Moutinho (GA)|
|—||Midfielder||Jordan Bender (HG)|
|—||Midfielder||David Loera (HG)|
|—||Midfielder||Andrés Perea (on loan from Atlético Nacional)|
|Chairman and Majority Owner||Flávio Augusto da Silva|
|Minor owner and president||Phil Rawlins|
|Chief executive officer||Alex Leitão|
|Executive VP of soccer operations||Luiz Muzzi|
|Academy director||Marcelo Neveleff|
|Head coach||Óscar Pareja|
List of seasons
|Year||MLS Regular season||Position||MLS Cup
|U.S. Open Cup||Champions
|League top scorer|
- Includes MLS regular season, MLS playoffs, CONCACAF Champions League, and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
- As of matches played October 7, 2019
|Adrian Heath||November 21, 2014||July 6, 2016||55||18||17||20||83||94||32.73|
|Bobby Murphy (interim)||July 7, 2016||July 23, 2016||4||0||3||1||4||6||0.00|
|Jason Kreis||July 24, 2016||June 15, 2018||65||22||13||30||90||117||33.85|
|Bobby Murphy (interim)||June 16, 2018||July 1, 2018||3||0||1||2||1||7||0.00|
|James O'Connor||July 2, 2018||October 7, 2019||56||13||14||29||69||95||23.21|
|Óscar Pareja||December 4, 2019||Present||0||0||0||0||0||0||—|
Average MLS attendance
|2015||Citrus Bowl||32,847||–||62,510||vs. New York City FC||22,241||vs. Sporting Kansas City|
|2016||31,323||-4.64%||60,147||vs. Real Salt Lake||23,802||vs. Toronto FC|
|2017||Orlando City Stadium||25,028||–||25,527||vs. New York City FC||23,018||vs. New England Revolution|
|2018||23,979||-4.19%||25,527||vs. D.C. United||22,337||vs. Portland Timbers|
|2019||22,761||-5.08%||25,527||vs. New York City FC||22,341||vs. FC Cincinnati|
- Sellout, first of ten in 2017
- Sellout, first of two in 2018
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