Two big moves by Orlando City SC for the 2016 season: the MLS franchise owners are adding United Soccer League (USL) and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) teams for the coming year.
The Orlando Pride will be coached by former U.S. Women’s National Team Coach Tom Sermanni. The Pride will play in the Orlando Citrus Bowl for the start of the 2016 season, eventually transitioning to the club’s new downtown stadium when construction is completed.
The name ‘Orlando Pride’ captures how we all feel about the City of Orlando, as well as firmly tying into the Lions family,” said Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “The time is right for women’s professional soccer here in Central Florida, and we are excited to launch this new team for 2016. We want to win championships and build one of the best women’s teams in world soccer. We have taken a strong first step in this direction by naming Tom Sermanni as head coach of the Pride. Tom brings world class experience to our city, combined with the expertise to build a winning franchise. This is a thrilling time for our organization, our partners, and for fans in the ‘Soccer Capital of the South.’
“With the successful launch of the MLS team, as well as the 2016 launch of the NWSL and USL teams, this region continues to reap the economic benefit of world class professional soccer.”
“We are very excited to welcome the Orlando Pride as the second expansion club in the history of the National Women’s Soccer League,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. “Orlando is a remarkable organization with an authentic club culture and a community that will help us continue to grow the league and provide more opportunities for female soccer players at the highest level. As we continue to build the overall fan base, we are thrilled to have a club in the Southeast to provide fans in the region with the opportunity to see and interact with our amazing players. We have no doubt Orlando will be a tremendous addition to the NWSL.”
The addition of the NWSL team comes at the heels of the announcement of the USL’s Orlando City B, or OCB for short, for the 2016 season as well. It marks the return of Orlando to USL: Orlando City SC began life as an USL team before moving up to MLS.
The team will play its home games at the Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne. The agreement between Orlando City and EFSC will allow OCB to host games in Brevard County, extending Orlando City’s brand to the east coast of Central Florida.
“The addition of Orlando City B represents another important and exciting step in the continued growth of our club,” said Orlando City Vice President of Development Tim Holt. “OCB will have an immediate impact in the advancement of our young and emerging players by offering week-in, week-out action in the highly-competitive USL, serving to accelerate their development. With our past USL accomplishments serving as one of the club’s foundations, we are particularly thrilled to be rejoining a vibrant league in the form of OCB, rekindling old rivalries and establishing new ones. Further, our partnership with EFSC for the staging of games at the Titan Soccer Complex will allow us to offer a festive event experience and intense game atmosphere for our fans in Brevard County and throughout Central Florida to enjoy.”
“Orlando City has captured the soccer world in Central Florida, drawing a half million fans to Orlando for MLS matches, and many of those fans live right here in Brevard County,” said EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey. “We are thrilled to become the home for OCB, bringing professional soccer to Brevard County while showcasing our first class facility to deliver an amazing fan experience. We have worked diligently the past few years to bring partnerships such as these to the college that help drive the local economy and foster greater awareness of our institution.”
“We are pleased to welcome back such an important club in USL history for the 2016 season,” USL President Jake Edwards said. “Having Orlando City SC back in the USL and playing in the greater Orlando area is an important step as we continue to build the league’s presence in the Southeastern United States. We are excited to see Phil Rawlins, Tim Holt and the entire Orlando City organization continue the incredible success the club has enjoyed in the USL in the past.”