Why Orlando City SC Should Become The Next MLS Franchise
After the announcement of New York City Football Club as the MLS' 20th team, the race to be the 21st (possibly) last MLS expansion team has heated up. Interest has been large, with Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, San Antonio, Minneapolis, St. Louis, North Carolina, Sacramento and Las Vegas all expressing that they want to be home to the 21st MLS team. While there are plenty of good choices in this group, there is only one great choice. That is Orlando.
Reason #1: Orlando Already Has A Quality Team In Place
Out of all of the expansion possibilites, only Orlando, Atlanta, San Antonio and North Carolina have quality teams in place. Out of all of these teams, only one can lure good players while playing the the USL PRO. That team is Orlando City SC. Orlando City SC boasts players who play for international teams like Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, not bad for a team that plays in the second tier of American soccer and was started only 3 years ago. Another thing to note is how well The Lions have performed against MLS and MLS quality teams. In the preseason, they drew 1-1 with the Union and only narrowly lost 3-2 to the Columbus Crew. In the US Open Cup, Orlando beat both the Colorado Rapids and Sporting KC before being knocked out by the Chicago Fire. Orlando is without a doubt better than some of the current MLS squads (ahem Chivas USA, Toronto FC) and has the quality to make an positive impact on the MLS from game one. On another note, Kaka said that he would play for the team is they were added as an expansion team, and hate him all you want, but Kaka is still a premier player.
Reason #2: Orlando City SC Has A Strong Youth Set-Up
Orlando city's U23 team may not be recognized internationally as a top youth squad, but it is one that can successfully compete against top academies (IMG Academy Bradenton, Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy) along with MLS youth teams. MLS and USMNT star Graham Zusi came out of the Orlando City U23 team, and the team annually makes the PDL Conference Semifinals.
Having a strong youth set-up is extremely important, as it shows that the team will be able to compete in the league for years to come. Out of all of the expansion teams, only Orlando has a strong youth team, and that should be taken into consideration.
Reason #3: Orlando City SC Already Has A True and Proven Fanbase
Orlando City is the best supported team in American soccer that isn't in the MLS. Averaging 7,800 fans a game, Orlando City SC easily beats English League One teams like Doncaster and Notts County, along with Ligue 1 team Ajaccio. Chivas USA only draws 8,896 and only drew 7,212 on opening night killing the excuse that Orlando won't be able to have a large enough attendance to be admitted into the MLS. Orlando's fans are passionate and the hype about Orlando becoming an MLS team and receiving a new stadium (See the Montreal Impact and Sporting KC) will drastically raise attendance to become an top side (attendance-wise) in the MLS. The major issue with the MLS' last expansion attempts in Florida were attendance and that won't be a problem with Orlando.
Reason #4: It Is A No-Competition Market
Unlike San Antonio and several other cities interested in becoming an MLS city, an Orlando MLS team would have almost no competition to lower attendances or TV ratings. San Antonio is located in an state that already has two quality MLS teams, and it is very doubtful that it can support three, while areas like Miami and St. Louis put the potential soccer franchise against beloved teams like the Heat and Cardinals. As the visual to the side shows, the nearest MLS team to Orlando is either Dallas or Washington D.C. which will let Orlando become the Southeast's soccer team. This is extremely attractive as TV market stretches from Louisiana to North Carolina an area that doesn't have a large amount of professional sports teams. The Southeast needs an MLS team, and Orlando is the perfect location for one.
What's Next For Orlando City SC?
In order for Orlando City SC to join the MLS, they will need approval for a new soccer-specific stadium to be built. This project already has the backing of Orlando's mayor and is approved would most likely fast track the team's attempt to join the MLS. To find out more about Orlando City SC and their MLS hopes visit the following sites:
What are your thoughts on a potential team in Orlando? Is it a smart move? Feel free to express your views on MLS expansion and Orlando City SC below in the comments section.