Orlando City’s Inaugural MLS Season and Soccer in Central Florida
The Orlando City Lions started their road to the MLS back in 2010 as part of the USL Pro league. In their four years in USL Pro, the Lions won two championships and finished three seasons on top. It was on November 19, 2013 that the Major League Soccer (MLS) announced the Lions as the 21st franchise.
March 8, 2015 was a very big day for the Orlando City Lions, for it was their 1st MLS game against New York City FC in the Citrus Bowl before a roaring crowd of 62,510. Supporting the Lions throughout the whole season, it was electric to see the support and growth of the team. Every game night many supporters came to cheer on our all-star team. Kaká, a former FIFA World Player of the Year, came to town to lead our team to many successes on the pitch. Cyle Larin a young Canadian stormed his rookie year and eventually won the MLS Rookie of the Year award also proved to be an instrumental addition to the team. Seeing families, children and the community have a great time along with the camaraderie at the games, proves it to be an exciting 2016 season.
The Lion’s inaugural season was a great season both on and off the field. Orlando City has given back their successes to the community through the Orlando City Foundation. They have made it their mission to promote growth within our children in the Central Florida community. They are developing soccer programs in under-served communities by giving equipment and providing training to coaches and volunteers to get programs started within the community and schools. They also strengthen the soccer programs that are already in existence with Foundation grants.
The Lions team reaches out and are often in the community to teach the children values and to promote health and wellness. They also support children’s initiatives in the community from the Howard Phillips Center Healthy Families Orange program; Parramore Kidz Zone and Fifth Thirds Bank’s Summer of Dreams, to name a few. They have been at hospitals bringing children hope. They are at food pantries serving our community. The team and foundation does great work in our Central Florida Community.
Soccer will continue to grow in Central Florida. USL Pro is coming back to the area with Orlando City B. Not only that but in 2016, Orlando City is bringing in National Women’s Soccer with the Orlando Pride led by Alex Morgan, a leader and a name synonymous with Women’s soccer. The Lion’s have a very bright future in the MLS and our Community. March 6, 2016 is going to be another big day and I invite all of you to come out and fill the bowl.
See you on the Pitch!
Richard C. Mendoza