With a shiny new stadium, three teams…two men’s (with team Captain Kaka) , one lady’s (who’ve just signed arguably the greatest female soccer player of all time, Brasil’s “Marta”)
…and a fan base that is so loyal and dedicated that they are at the stadium a much as three hours before a match to set up for the battle. Supporters, The Wall, Ruckus, Crown, they are called many names, but, they only see purple.
Orlando City Soccer Club (Lions) are now the “Mane Event” in Central Florida sports.
But, how did this team come to be so?
In a city where “magical” things happen, and there are fairy tales endings, this is another story cut from that cloth.
Nearly seven years ago when Phil Rawlins told people that his dream was to bring an MLS franchise to Central Florida, some people doubted him. Miami was working with David Beckham, and it appeared they’d be in well before Orlando. Those who believed that, made a big mistake!
Rawlins and his investor group, Orlando City Soccer Club were on a mission. And they planned to do it in three to five years. So, their “goal” was to fast track soccer in Central Florida.
Less than six months later, Rawlins met with Don Garber (MLS Commissioner) about his plan. Just over six more months passed, and he met once again with the Commissioner.
Less than a year and a half after his initial announcement, Mr. Garber was visiting the City of Orlando, it’s city and county officials and soon there after was so impressed with the plan and the statistics, along with the enthusiasm of all involved, Garber said [of Orlando joining MLS] “It’s not a matter of if, but when,” truer words were never spoken.
Just over three years after Phil Rawlins made his dream known to anyone who would listen, he would make his dream come true, when on November 19, 2013, Orlando City SC was announced as the league’s twenty-first franchise.
Orlando City Soccer Club Lions hosted their first MLS game on March 8, 2015, in what is now known as Camping World Stadium, and the rest is (proverbial) history.
Since then OCSC has built a new stadium, and climbed up the ranks of MLS. They now sit firmly atop the Eastern Conference with the most wins in the East, despite the fact that we’ve played the least amount of games in the East. This, with a 6-1 record and 18 points (2 points ahead of the #2 team, New York Red Bulls) though we’ve played two games less.
As fans, we recognize that it’s very early in the season, however, if we keep playing at this level, things are looking good for a deep playoff run at season’s end.
Everywhere you look, you see purple Orlando City crests, Orlando City, Orlando City B, & Orlando Pride stickers on the back of cars, trucks, and SUV’s throughout Central Florida. Another testament to the marketing and branding job the organization has done to make everyone aware of the team.
On every level it appears that the dream turned reality has been done as a true team. City. Officials. League. Fan base. Ownership. Hand in hand, we hope to raise the MLS Cup.
Vamos Orlando! Esta Noche, tenemos que ganar!