Orlando City Brings Soccer to Orlando

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Professional soccer kicks off in Orlando tonight as Orlando City take on Philadelphia Union at the Citrus Bowl in a pre-season game. The club has adopted the nickname “Lions” and their colors are shades of red, purple and gold, and are the same colors used by Serie A club ACF Fiorentina, who have no affiliation to the team.

The Lions will play in the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division when the main season starts and they will play in one of three five-team divisions that will comprise USL PRO. Orlando City is in the American Division with the Charleston (S.C.) Battery, Charlotte (N.C.) Eagles, Richmond (Va.) Kickers and Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads. USL Pro is considered to be in the third tier of American soccer, beneath Major League Soccer and the North American Soccer League.

The Lions are coached by former English Football League player Adrian Heath who was at the training camp on Monday at the Lake Sylvan complex in Sanford. The ownership group of the club was originally identified as Orlando Pro Soccer and was announced on March 4, 2010. It was initially affiliated with the Orlando Titans National Lacrosse League team but the Titans ran into financial difficulties.

In October 2010, the Orlando Pro Soccer USL rights were purchased by Phil Rawlins, a board member of English Premier League club Stoke City, who moved the Texas based Austin Aztex organization to Orlando. The team was announced on October 25, 2010 as Rawlins stated at the press conference that he intended to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Orlando “within 3-5 years”, and intends to bring international matches to the city as well.

Rawlins is President and majority owner of the club’s ownership group, Orlando Sports Holdings. Also in the group is Brendan Flood, a board member of English Championship side Burnley, while Steve Donner will act as CEO. For more information on upcoming games and ticket prices check out the clubs web site at www.OrlandoCitySoccer.com

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