USL Announces Orlando City Soccer Club as New USL PRO Team
Orlando City SC will be the name of the new USL PRO side that will compete in Orlando, Florida in 2011. In a press conference this afternoon Steve Donner, who will be the club’s CEO, introduced Phil Rawlins, owner of the Austin Aztex.
Rawlins announced that he would indeed be moving his Austin Aztex to Orlando, Florida. Orlando Sports Holdings (OSH) will be the name of that organization. OSH will be comprised of majority owner Rawlins, who is also partial owner and on the board of Stoke City in the English Premier League, along with Brendan Flood, the majority owner of the English Championship’s Burnley F.C., and Dan Williams.
According to Rawlins, Orlando City Soccer Club will have a direct affiliation with Stoke City. This affiliation will help make Orlando an international destination for soccer, bringing top teams from Europe, Central and South America to Central Florida for international exhibitions, pre-season training camps and other soccer competitions.
Rawlins said his new investor/partners wanted to move the team to Orlando. “Our new investors were intrigued by Orlando as a market,” said Rawlins. “We thought, let’s take a successful franchise and move it into a market that we believe has got major-league potential.”
The Austin Aztex owner also stated that his new organization has MLS aspirations and would like to do so in 3-4 years time.
“We can confidently say we’ll see two international exhibitions here next summer, and our goal is to take that July window and have teams vie for the Orlando slot because we’re going to do this on an annual basis,” Orlando City S.C. CEO Steve Donner said.
The organization also announced that Adrian Heath, who has coached the Aztex the last two seasons and who recently inked a new 3-year deal with the Aztex, will be the team’s first coach.
Rawlins also announced that the Deal that caused Austin to move to Orlando was actually done early last week which would be contrary to the Austin Press release on Friday. That statement said: The ownership group has been working hard to pursue additional investors to secure the long-term future of the club and continues to do so. At this point in time, there is nothing concrete to report on that front, but we will continue to pursue all of our options and will make an announcement as soon as anything is solidified.
Rawlins said the Aztex currently have 24 players under contract and that will make up the base of the roster for the new Orlando team.
Tim Holt also spoke and said when all is said and done the USL expects to have 20 teams playing USL PRO in 2011.