Orlando City have continued to crank up the heat in recent weeks, as they aim to become Major League Soccer’s next expansion franchise.
And now the Mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, has revealed that the city hopes to have a new stadium deal sorted out in the “next few weeks” and hopes Orlando will have their second major league sports franchise by “the end of the summer.”
Is that realistic? Dyer’s timeline certainly seems much quicker than most would expect.
But speaking on a local radio show, Dyer confirmed that plans for a new soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando are just one step away from going ahead, while their front office now boasts Brett Lashbrook– an MLS expansion guru who previously worked as a ‘special assistant’ to MLS Commissioner Don Garber — who is leading the charge to MLS by helping with stadium deals and everything else that goes with it.
Also earlier this week Orlando City manager Adrian Heath said that Real Madrid and Brazilian star Kaká would become an Orlando player if they join MLS before 2015. So, has all this helped MLS to come to an agreement and allow the Lions to jump up from USL Pro to Major League Soccer sooner than expected?
It may have.
Especially given Orlando’s recent impressive 1-0 win away at holders Sporting KC in the US Open Cup, maybe MLS is realizing that the league could really use a successful franchise in the Southeast. Plenty of noises have come out of the league office supporting expansion in Florida during recent weeks. With Miami also surfacing as a possible option for an MLS franchise after David Beckham visited the city with a view to help setting up a team in MIA.
Dyer’s comments have further fueled the fire that MLS expansion is moving at a much quicker rate than many thought it would. We have already had the announcement regarding New York City FC joining the league in 2015. So wouldn’t it make sense to add Orlando City and a Miami franchise for that same season?
Just like in the past when the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers joined the league together in the 2011 season and Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA became expansion sides in 2005.
This one will continue to unfold as Orlando City push harder and harder for MLS expansion.
Truth be told, they’re doing everything they possibly can to join the big boys.