Orlando City Soccer Club is an American professional soccer club based 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 of the league. [57] [4] The team is the first MLS franchise located in the state of Florida since the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were folded by the league following the 2001 season . [55] The team plays in the privately owned and operated Orlando City Stadium , located in the heart of downtown Orlando.

History

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. [58] 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. [59] 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. [60]

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. [61] 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." [54]

On November 19, 2013, Orlando City SC was announced as the league's twenty-first franchise. On May 13, 2014, the team unveiled its new logo. [63] [64] On June 9, 2014, Orlando City SC announced a partnership with Benfica . [65] As part of that partnership, Orlando City signed two players from the S.L. Benfica Juniors U-19 developmental team – Estrela and Rafael Ramos – to MLS contracts on August 7, 2014. [54] On June 30, 2014 the team signed former Brazil international Kaká as their first Designated Player after his release from A.C. Milan , loaning him out to São Paulo FC until the start of the season. [54] [54]

On November 21, 2014, Adrian Heath signed a contract extension committing him to the club through to the end of the 2017 MLS season. [54] As an expansion team, Orlando had first pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft , choosing Canadian forward Cyle Larin , formerly of the Connecticut Huskies . [54]

Inaugural season

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 extra time to earn a 1–1 draw. [54] In the following game, they defeated Houston Dynamo 1–0, on the road, marking their first victory. [72] On March 21, Orlando conceded a goal late in second half stoppage time by Octavio Rivero of Vancouver Whitecaps FC for their first defeat. [73] Orlando City finished 7th in the Eastern Conference, 14th overall falling short from clinching a berth into the MLS Cup Playoffs . Larin scored 17 goals across the season, breaking Damani Ralph 's record of 13 for an MLS rookie and earning the MLS Rookie of the Year Award . [74]

With disappointing results and performance of the team, long time head coach Adrian Heath was fired from the club in July 2016. [75] In that same month, Orlando City announced Jason Kreis as the franchise's new head coach. The Lions ended the season missing the playoffs once again.

In 2017, the Lions moved to their stadium which had been ready in time for operations. During the season, Orlando had struggled competing while conceding goals to opposing teams. During the summer transfer window, Orlando acquired Dom Dwyer who had played for the USL Pro team that operated in 2010–2014 on a loan in 2013. In exchange, the club gave Sporting KC incentives totaling to $1.6 million being the most given for a trade within the league. In the end of the Season, Kaka announced that he would not return for Orlando City, ending his time with the club. [76]

Stadium

Image
Brek Shea playing against the Houston Dynamo in a game during the 2015 season

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. [77] 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. [78] The mechanism to allow for the sales tax rebate for the MLS team was ultimately passed on April 25, 2014. [79]

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. [51] 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. [54] 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. [57]

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. [57]

On March 5, 2017, Orlando City Stadium opened its doors as Orlando City hosted New York City FC to begin the 2017 MLS Regular 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. [57]

After its opening, two major events were announced for Orlando City Stadium. On May 8, 2017, the United States Men's National Team chose the stadium for its October 8, 2017, World Cup Qualifier against Panama. [57] Then, on April 22, 2017, it was announced that Orlando City Stadium would host the 2017 National Women's Soccer League Championship on October 14, 2017. [57]

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 their first home match in their inaugural season, Orlando filled the stadium to its seating capacity in their "fill the bowl" campaign. Orlando City had averaged over 30,000 in attendance in their home matches while using the stadium. [57]

Developmental system

MLS is no longer running a reserve league but supporting affiliations with USL teams. [57] Orlando City had an affiliation agreement with Louisville City FC , the club that bought the USL license from the owners of Orlando City. The agreement provided that Orlando City will loan at least four players to Louisville City during the season. [57] Starting in 2016, Orlando City will no longer affiliate with Louisville City FC and will instead affiliate with USL expansion franchise Orlando City B in Melbourne, Florida . [57]

In the first year of Orlando Pro Soccer, the team allied with the 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 . The U23 team was folded after the 2015 season. Also after their 2011 season, Orlando City acquired controlling interest in the Florida Soccer Alliance youth soccer club, renaming them Orlando City Youth Soccer Club. That club has several teams competing in the USL Super Y-League .

Orlando City B (OCB) is the farm club of Orlando City SC. The creation of OCB was announced on October 15, 2015, [57] and it began competing in the USL in 2016. [92] On June 30, Orlando City SC had ended its affiliation with Louisville City FC and sought ownership of an Orlando-based USL affiliate, culminating in the creation of Orlando City B. [93] [94] [95]

After playing the 2016 season at Titan Soccer Complex on the campus of Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne, Orlando City B head coach Anthony Pulis announced on November 29, 2016, that the team would play at Orlando City Stadium starting in 2017. Orlando City Stadium is the first venue to host an MLS , NWSL , and USL team in the same location. [97] The team plays in USL Pro division, which was granted provisional Division 2 status by the USSF on January 6, making it officially the 2nd-highest league in the United States, behind MLS and now ahead of the NASL . Orlando City B now plays in the same league the Lions started at when beginning play in Orlando. [99] With the Tampa Bay Rowdies also making the move from NASL to USL Pro, the squads now have the first intrastate rivalry established, nicknamed "The War on I-4."

Colors and badge

Orlando City SC's official colors are purple, gold, and white.

Uniform evolution

Home, away, and third uniforms.

  • Home
Image
Orlando City Stadium
2015–2016
Image
Camping World Stadium ( pictured ), Orlando City's home venue for their first two seasons.
2017–
  • Away
2015
2016–

Sponsorship

Season Manufacturer Sponsor Ref.
2015– Adidas Orlando Health [100]

Orlando Health has been the official uniform sponsor for Orlando City SC since the team's inception. 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 uniform provider for the 2015 season. [100]

Supporters

The club had sold over 13,000 season tickets before playing its first match in March 2015, [39] and during March 2015 reached its cap by selling out all 14,000 available season tickets. [101] As of the 2017 season, Orlando City's season ticket base stands at a cap of 18,000. [102]

The club has two major active supporters groups , which combine forces on game days to create "The Wall": The Ruckus and The Iron Lion Firm. [103] 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. There are also officially recognized international fan clubs in Brazil and the United Kingdom. [105]

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 , [106] and also announced they were close to selling out the second home game versus Vancouver Whitecaps FC . [107] 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 FC .

Mascot

Orlando City's mascot is Kingston, an anthropomorphized and "bulked up" lion complete with dreadlocks. [109]

Players

Current roster

As of November 7, 2017 [111]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Bendik, Joe Joe Bendik United States
2 Defender Spector, Jonathan Jonathan Spector United States
4 Defender Aja, José José Aja Uruguay
6 Midfielder Laryea, Richie Richie Laryea ( GA ) Canada
7 Midfielder Higuita, Cristian Cristian Higuita Colombia
8 Midfielder Johnson, Will Will Johnson Canada
9 Forward Larin, Cyle Cyle Larin Canada
11 Forward Rivas, Carlos Carlos Rivas ( DP ) Colombia
16 Midfielder Rocha, Tony Tony Rocha United States
18 Forward Dwyer, Dom Dom Dwyer United States
19 Midfielder Yotún, Yoshimar Yoshimar Yotún ( DP ) Peru
21 Defender Sutter, Scott Scott Sutter Switzerland
25 Defender Toia, Donny Donny Toia United States
27 Defender Ramos, Rafael Rafael Ramos Portugal
29 Defender Redding, Tommy Tommy Redding ( HGP ) United States
31 Goalkeeper Stajduhar, Mason Mason Stajduhar ( HGP ) United States
36 Goalkeeper Edwards, Jr., Earl Earl Edwards, Jr. United States
94 Defender PC, PC Brazil
98 Midfielder da Silva, Pierre Pierre da Silva United States

Staff

Executive
Majority owner and chairman Flávio Augusto da Silva
Owner John Bonner
Minor owner and president Phil Rawlins
Chief executive officer Alex Leitão
General manager Niki Budalić
Coaching staff
Head coach Jason Kreis
Assistant coach C.J. Brown
Assistant coach Miles Joseph
Assistant coach/Academy coordinator Bobby Murphy
Goalkeeping coach Tim Mulqueen
Orlando City B coach Anthony Pulis

[112] [113] [47] [58] [58]

Team records

Year MLS Regular season Position MLS Cupplayoffs Open cup ChampionsLeague Top scorer
P W L D GF GA Pts Conf. Overall Player Goals
2015 34 12 14 8 46 56 44 7th 14th Did not qualify QF Not eligible Cyle Larin 17
2016 34 9 11 14 55 60 41 8th 15th Did not qualify R16 DNQ Cyle Larin 14
2017 34 10 15 9 39 58 39 10th 18th Did not qualify R4 DNQ Cyle Larin 12

Head coaches

  • Includes MLS regular Season, MLS Playoffs, CONCACAF Champions League, and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
As of October 23, 2017
All Time Orlando City SC Coaching Stats
Coach Nationality Tenure Games Win Tie Loss Win %
Adrian Heath ENG November 21, 2014 – July 6, 2016 55 19 20 16 0 34.55
Bobby Murphy (interim) USA July 7, 2016 – July 23, 2016 4 0 1 3 00 0.00
Jason Kreis USA July 19, 2016–present 48 15 12 21 0 31.25

Player records

All-time appearances

As of October 23, 2017 [117]
# Name Career MLS Playoffs Open Cup CCL Total
1 Cyle Larin 2015– 89 0 2 0 91
2 Carlos Rivas 2015– 80 0 4 0 84
3 Cristian Higuita 2015– 74 0 3 0 77
4 Kaká 2015–2017 76 0 3 0 79
5 Joe Bendik 2016– 69 0 0 0 69
6 Servando Carrasco 2015– 61 0 4 0 65
7 Seb Hines 2015– 55 0 4 0 59
8 Luke Boden 2015–2016 45 0 4 0 49
9 Brek Shea 2015–2016 46 0 1 0 47
10 Rafael Ramos 2015– 39 0 5 0 44
11 Darwin Cerén 2015–2016 42 0 2 0 44

Top goalscorers

As of October 23, 2017 [117]
# Name Career MLS Playoffs Open Cup CCL Total
1 Cyle Larin 2015– 42 0 1 0 43
2 Kaká 2015–2017 25 0 1 0 26
3 Carlos Rivas 2015– 8 0 4 0 12
4 Kevin Molino 2015–2016 11 0 1 0 12
5 Júlio Baptista 2016 6 0 0 0 6
6 Adrian Winter 2015–2016 5 0 0 0 5
Seb Hines 2015– 5 0 0 0 5
7 Giles Barnes 2017– 3 0 1 0 4
Dom Dwyer 2017– 4 0 0 0 4
8 Bryan Róchez 2015–2017 3 0 0 0 3

Average Attendance

  • 2015: 32,847 (at Citrus Bowl)
  • 2016: 31,323 (at Citrus Bowl / Camping World Stadium)
  • 2017: 25,028

See also