Orlando City to be announced as MLS expansion club on Nov. 19

Phi Rawlins Don Garber Orlando City (Orlando City)


At long last, MLS is returning to Florida.

Orlando City SC announced on Wednesday that it is set to make a major announcement at an event that is open to the public at Cheyenne Saloon on Nov. 19. The news confirms an Orlando Sentinel report from last week that stated the USL PRO club would make its move to MLS official on Nov. 19 at an event in downtown Orlando.

MLS has not had a team in Florida since removing both the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny back in 2001.

“We are excited to make these two big announcements next week, which will solidify Orlando as a soccer market for years to come,” said Orlando City president Phil Rawlins in a statement released by the club. “We encourage all of our fans to come out on the 19th, which will be a historic day for the city of Orlando!”

Orlando City will also make an announcement on Monday involving long-time partner Orlando Health, which is the sponsor on the front of the club’s jersey.

Orlando City will be MLS’s 21st team, with New York City FC being awarded the league’s 20th franchise earlier this year.


What do you make of the news that Orlando City will be announced as the next MLS expansion club? Excited? Happy to see MLS returning to Florida?

Share your thoughts below.

  • choto

    Francisco…. why is MLS going to FL this time around when it retracted 2 teams in 2001? what gives MLS confidence that this time it will be different?


    • drew11

      MLS is going to FL because the city & county are investing $40 million in a SSS. MLS is going to FL because somebody is paying a $70 million franchise fee. How many more reasons do you need?


      • 407

        The freaking club for God’s sake, who else?

        And the amount the city/county and club are investing don’t mean squat if there isn’t a very large audience ready and hungry for this in Orlando. They’ll blow the rook of their new park every night.

        It’s the right place at the right time. It’s going to be massive.


      • 407


        Unless they in fact build a rook/medieval tower in one corner of the stadium. But OCSC is for real, they don’t do magical wonderland crap.


      • EspinDOHla

        Congrats on the expansion but no need to get pissy 407…

        Actually, it’s not the “club” per se, its an extremely wealth owner(s) of OCSC. I’m also curious to know more about the owners of OCSC that have to cash to pony up that expansion fee.


      • The Imperative Voice

        The worst attended MLS team plays in a SSS. NASL was driven off a cliff because people wanted to cash in on succssive franchise fees.

        What makes a team successful is fan interest, sponsor interest, player interest, not this inside baseball stuff. Seattle shows you can put the team in a cavernous football stadium and if people are interested they’ll fill it up.

        Particularly given that this has been tried and failed, there’s a danger this will be the league’s first poor expansion moves…..since, what, the last time they tried Florida?


      • RAMONE

        In Orlando’s defense, MLS failed in Tampa and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.

        It is a big state. My somewhat uneducated opinion here because I live on the other side of the country, but it appears to me that OCSC has done it the right way. They grew a fan base (though there are some contradictory reports over how large that really is) who shows up at games and is involved. If the last few expansions are any measure, they can easily double that if not more.

        I was in Florida last June, wandering in my PTFC 3rd kit. Total stranger comes up to me and congratulates and thanks me for my team knocking Tampa Bay out of the USOC a few days before and wants to talk MLS expansion and his OCSC fandom with me. They appear to me to have the passionate base that they need. Tampa is all old people who can barely muster caring about NFL or MLB anymore. Miami is famously a terrible sports city unless you are a clear frontrunner and then fans may show when it gets interesting — MLS 10 years ago was beneath them.

        I think OCSC will be fine. They may not be a beyond expectations slam dunk like Montreal, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, and RSL have been (and NYC2 probably will be), but even if they do reasonably well and just hold their own, it is good for the league to grow its base and footprint. I doubt this will be a ChivasUSA redux.


    • Indy

      Everything has changed since then, Orlando will be fine. The next several markets that will be granted teams is going to be more about TV revenue anyway, the league has to have a presence in the southeast to leverage that in negotiations.


    • Colin in MT


      MLS lost an estimated $250 million in its first five years of existence. Tampa Bay was owned by the league and Miami’s ownership lacked financial resources. Thus, they were the two easiest teams to retract.

      The league is in a much better place financially twelve years later (14 if you count when Orlando will be joining the league). Orlando’s ownership group has major financial muscle. Plus, taking into account the investment in a SSS and the USL side’s success – the situation is much different than the situation facing Tampa Bay and Miami in 2001.


    • Reeves' Army

      1) We have already built a proven fan base.

      2) We are building a soccer-specific stadium.

      3) Our TV market isn’t exactly a small market. We are #18 in 2013-14, larger than Portland, Columbus or SLC. Miami is only #16.

      4) Unlike the Mutiny and Fusion, we aren’t thumbing our noses at tradition.


      • tw

        Not having a major league baseball team to compete with in one of the largest, fastest-growing metro areas with a younger population is also an attractive feature. Orlando is probably one of the more under-served sports markets.


    • Adam

      The first answer of the answer is that that happened in 2001…things have changed in 12 years. Secondly, when those teams were created in 1996, they went into markets without owners, stadium or fan base. The Miami Fusion were actually playing in a high school stadium in Ft. Lauderdale!

      Orlando City is a completely different conversation. First, soccer has grown significantly in 12 years. Orlando City actually has one of the largest youth set ups of any team in the county, MLS or otherwise. Second, the team has a proven fan base (8,000 per game for 3rd division) and a stadium devoted to soccer in downtown.

      I dont mean to take shots at anyone but the argument that MLS wont work because of something that happened 12 years ago is pretty tired and worn out. If anything, it shows that you are not paying attention.


  • irantandirave

    Orlando or Miami, pick your poison, neither city will work, give them 10 years and they will be moving out of FL. Give Atlanta or Charlotte or any other SE city a chance.


    • shaffer_ty

      Because if Atlanta and Charlotte are known for anything, it’s rabid support for their professional sports teams . . .


      • AzTeXan

        This week in Atlanta is the worst sports city in the country: The Braves are leaving Turner Field, constructed all the way back in 1997, to go to the suburbs.


    • AzTeXan

      While I haven’t been to Orlando since I was 4, I find it hilarious when people think Miami and Orlando are the same when it comes to sports. They are going to have SKC/Dynamo level success both on and off the field in MLS.


    • 407

      It’s usually either “City” or “the Lions,” here in Orlando.

      One of the local tv sports guys has been calling them “the lads” for a couple of years now. It’s modestly amusing in a dorky sort of way.

      But it will not be “Citeh” as NYCFC are likely to be, when they try to ape Man City in every aspect of their existence, IMO.


  • AzTeXan

    On the one hand I want MLS to succeed in general and expand into the Southeast/Florida, but at the same time I have this seething hatred for the ownership who left my hometown like we were nothing. So conflicted.


    • AzTeXan

      Of course Rawlins could just not be an idiot and make the Aztex his USL affiliate. It’s not like we’re perfect for the third tier and it’s not like their young players would be tripping over themselves to spend time in Austin.


      • ATX

        Yikes. If the Aztex became a Rawlins affiliate, I might start supporting the Scorpions!

        Not that I think the current ownership (Phil’s former partners that he burned and left behind with no notice or consultation) would want to have anything to do with him.


  • el paso tx

    Congrats orlando. Will they come in 2015 or 2016 since soccer stadiums can be done in a 15 months. How about bring in orlando n miami in 2015 with temporary field as their stadium is being finish, but mls wont like that. ( nycfc is a master plan so thats the difference)
    As for atlanta it just got.better due to braves moving out but falcons owner wont make another stadium just for soccer, and thats city owned land from turner field.
    So now, we got atlanta, san antonio, sacramento and cosmos and maybe minneapolis, but if mls garber likes vancouver type of stadiums, then many indoor nfl stadium owners will jump in.
    Like phoenix, minneapolis, indy, detroit.


      • 407

        Presently the plan is to open the new stadium by Memorial Day 2015, so the club would need to play our first official MLS season at the newly re-furb’d Citrus Bowl for the first several weeks of the 2015 season.


    • Dirk McQuigley

      No, “we didn’t get Cosmos (sic).” NYFC is a different ownership group completely separate from the Cosmos who are in NASL now. I would have preferred the Cosmos to the blandly named NYFC, but it wasn’t my decision.

      Atlanta, Detroit, Indy, and Phoenix. As if. A crap sports town, a bankrupt city, a third tier city, and an unpredictable market. Sacramento couldn’t even maintain an ASL team in the 70s and early 80s. At least San Antonio has potential and grass roots support.


  • Brian Decker

    Congrats to the city of Orlando. Excited to travel bi-yearly to visit the amusement parks and watch the LA Galaxy beat down Orlando City with the family!!!!


  • Crouching Tiger

    Orlando has the best fan base in the Southeast hands-down they will do just fine in the MLS and their front office is nothing but first class. Amazing how they reached the MLS in a span of 3 years.


    • alocksley

      This is why they were chosen, following the successful model of the pacific northwaest teams. They will do fine. It’s potentially adding Miami and/or Atlanta that worries me.


  • slowleftarm

    Any reason this is being announced the same day as the world cup playoffs? Seems like a conflict that could have and should have been avoided.


  • Dirk McQuigley

    Worried that MLS is headed down a path of failure, trying to add franchises like the NHL did. IMO anything more than 20 teams is unworkable. How so? Once you add more than 20 teams, the number of matches becomes staggering. Twenty one teams equals 40 matches plus USOC, possible CCL matches, possible MLS Cup matches, friendlies, etc. If you have 24 teams, you need to have a 46 game schedule like the Championship in England, plus the USOC matches, and so on.

    The only way you make 24 teams work is to divide the league into conferences and you play every team in your conference home and home, but you only play the teams in the other conference once a year, alternating who has the home game. That would be a slightly shorter 34 game schedule with 11 times 2 for your conference plus 12 for the other conference.


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