Insider: Orlando City to the MLS?
After a successful first season, Orlando City Soccer could see their fortunes rise. OCS Owners met with MLS officials in New York last week to discuss being the league’s 20th team.
Many elements regarding the franchise were discussed and from a distance it appears like Orlando City is in the running to move up from USL Pro. They were able to capture the league title in their first year in the American minor league.
One thing certainly addressed in the meeting was the team’s impressive inaugural attendance that saw over 6,000 fans a game go through the turnstiles in the regular season and over 9,000 fans per during the playoffs.
With its recent success, Orlando has been rumored as a prime expansion market among soccer circles. The MLS is also said to be considering adding a second team in New York, possibly under the world-renown Cosmos brand, a team Pele made famous in the 1970s.
Other markets that have been in the mix for spot number 20 include St. Louis, Atlanta, and Miami. One big plus for The City Beautiful over other places is that it would be a brand new MLS destination that has not already failed, like say, Miami.
A drawback for Orlando is the fact that it lacks a soccer ready facility. Orlando City played their home games in the Citrus Bowl, but the MLS has pulled back from placing franchises in such large stadiums, with some of the latest examples being 20,000 seat venues built in Kansas City and Portland.
The next step would appear to be a visit by commissioner Don Garber and other MLS personnel to speak with city officials. Seeing if a soccer specific stadium could be built in Orlando would be first on the agenda. Also, the league is expected to help Orlando City draw premier international friendlies in 2012 to assess the market’s drawing power.