It’s Official! Orlando City Soccer Joins MLS in 2015!

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer,Sport |

The news that everyone in Central Florida has been waiting for came at 8.00pm this evening. Orlando City Soccer will become a Major League Soccer club in 2015.

It’s been remarkable progress for a club that started it’s first USL PRO season in 2011. Originally identified as Orlando Pro Soccer when it was announced on 4th March, 2010 and initially affiliated with the Orlando Titans National Lacrosse League, the club has made great progress since being purchased in October 2010 by Phil Rawlins after running into some financial difficulties. Rawlins, a board member of English Premier League Club Stoke City, secured the USL PRO rights and oversaw the move to Orlando by the Austin Aztex organisation. The team was announced on October 25, 2010 and Rawlins stated at the press conference that he intended to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Orlando “within 3–5 years”, as well as bringing international matches to the city.

Rawlins announced that the Aztex organization would remain intact in Orlando, with Adrian Heath being retained as manager and most of the team’s players returning as well. Orlando City’s first preseason began with three matches against Major League Soccer teams and they also faced BK Hacken of the Swedish Allsvenskan before a series of matches against local colleges Rollins, UCF, Stetson and USF. They opened their first season on April 2, 2011, at Richmond and played their first home game on April 9 against F.C. New York. They finished the regular season top of the American Division on 51 points, which resulted in the USL PRO Regular Season title. On September 3, they played the Harrisburg City Islanders in the 2011 USL PRO Championship. This match ended in a 1–1 draw, and after extra time the score was still tied at 2–2. Orlando went on to win 3–2 in penalty kicks making them the 2011 USL PRO champions.

In 2012, Orlando City repeated as Regular Season champions, but exited the playoffs in the semifinals with a 4–3 loss to Wilmington Hammerheads. In their third year in USL PRO, the Lions took second place in the regular season but then beat Pittsburgh Riverhounds 5-0, Charleston Battery 3-2 on their way to a remarkable 7-4 victory over the Charlotte Eagles in the Championship game.

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