Hello everyone. The USA has never really got behind Soccer but hopefully that's going to change in the near future. I recently spoke with Steve Crane from Striker Soccer Academy about the new Orlando City Soccer Club.
Pro Soccer has finally arrived in Orlando. After all the rumor and talk it was officially announced that the City Beautiful would have a professional soccer team which will compete in the USL (United Soccer Leagues) Pro league, basically the league below MLS.
Orlando City is not just another US Soccer team though. Granted, it's not a completely new team, they have actually moved an existing team, the old Austin Aztecs, and provided them with a new hometown, which happens in American sports. However, Orlando City has firm roots outside of the US. The majority owner, Phil Rawlins, is a Director of Stoke City FC and another Owner Brendan Flood is chairman of Burnley FC. Both clubs have partnered with Orlando City which makes it totally unique and provides positive vibes that this team will be around for a while and putting together a competitive team for us all to be proud of. Not only that, the Head Coach is Adrian Heath, ex Everton FC striker.
Phil Rawlins is a down to earth guy who has a great vision for the club. He has a focus on community involvement and writes into the players contracts that they must spend so many hours on community work, interacting with fans etc, which is a breath of fresh air when compared to the overpaid embarrassments in the Premier League.
Most importantly to soccer fans, he has set a target of MLS soccer within 5 years.
Last week the club announced it's new crest and a website. It's an exciting time to be a fan in Orlando. Ticket prices are very reasonable, you can get a season ticket for $99, which include league games and showcase games against International Clubs (read Stoke and Burnley, for starters) and MLS friendlies. Any English soccer fan will enjoy visiting a game, it will be different but unique. I feel it will be a bit like travelling back in time by 50 or 60 years, to watch a game, where the fans can get passionate without violence, you can relax and drink alcohol in your seat, and the stadium, the Citrus Bowl, looks like the Colliseum.
All in all, it's something for everyone British to be excited about. Expats can have a local team again, holidaymakers can go catch a game one evening in a fortnights break and it's another thing to do when visiting Orlando. Having spoken with all the movers and shakers concerned in Orlando City Soccer Club, I can comfortably say that the soccer on show will not be Mickey Mouse!
From everyone at Brits In America, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.