After forgoing the 2018 Division II USL season, Orlando City B will return to competition in 2019 as a member of the upstart USL Division III league.
“The return of Orlando City in USL’s new Division III has been an ongoing project, and we are very pleased to see this vision for our player development come together for the 2019 season,” said Orlando City SC’s General Manager Niki Budalic. “USL Division III is a perfect fit for the long-term goals Orlando City has of aligning our USL operation with the Academy to ultimately serve at the top of the player development pyramid for our First Team in Major League Soccer. Having this connection will give our Academy players age-appropriate opportunities to keep advancing their game to ultimately compete at the highest level of our sport in the U.S. and beyond.”
In January 2017, the Orlando City Development Academy moved its headquarters and the U-12 through U-19 boys teams to the facilities at Montverde Academy, which will also serve as the official home of Orlando City B in 2019.
“We are thrilled to welcome Orlando City B to USL Division III,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “Orlando City’s heritage within the USL is rich with tradition, and we look forward to working with the club to continue its track record of success on and off the pitch. The success of USL Division III will result from the diversity of its owners. We have seen investments from new clubs led by experienced sports professionals, existing clubs moving up from the amateur level, and from established clubs with an undeniable legacy in the USL. The talents brought to this league by these organizations will contribute to its future success. Additional new market announcements will be made over the coming weeks and months as we prepare for our inaugural season in 2019.”
Orlando City SC was one of the founding members at the start of the USL’s modern era in 2011. The club won two titles at the Division III level (2011, 2013) before moving into the top-flight MLS for the 2015 season. The club also still holds the record for the largest attendance at a USL Cup with 20,886 fans cheering on the team in the 2013 championship game. Beginning play in 2016, OCB reached the USL Cup Playoffs in its inaugural season and finished one position out of the postseason in 2017.
OCB joins South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro, Georgia), FC Tucson (Tucson, Arizona), Greenville Triumph SC (Greenville, South Carolina), Madison Pro Soccer (Madison, Wisconsin), Chattanooga Pro Soccer (Chattanooga, Tennessee) and Toronto FC II as founding members ahead of USL DIII’s debut season in 2019. Of those clubs, Toronto represents another that will shift from Division II USL, a move it announced in July.
Image courtesy Richmond Kickers.
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