Sad news today out of Central Florida. I’ve confirmed with Disney that the 2015 Disney World Pro Soccer Classic has officially been cancelled.
I spoke with Disney Manager of New Business Development Patrick Dicks, who has been involved with Disney sports since the first Disney/MLS collaborations in 1998. With Orlando City choosing not to play preseason matches in Orlando this year, it seems that the commitment from MLS teams simply wasn’t there to make the tournament happen.
In 2014, six Major League Soccer clubs, along with Orlando City used the tournament as a preseason warm up. However, it appears that MLS clubs will have to look elsewhere this season. Mr. Dicks expressed to me that Disney only wanted to hold the event if they were able to bring in the highest caliber teams.
“We’re trying to keep the marketplace clean for [MLS] to launch this year,” he said. “We’re going to step back and reevaluate for 2016.” He also mentioned that MLS “endorses Bradenton,” in a nod to the MLS’s collaboration with the IMG Academy in Bradenton, on the west coast of Florida.
Mr. Dicks was nothing but complimentary of Orlando City’s role in the growth of the Pro Soccer Classic.
“Orlando City and Phil Rawlins were stalwarts in helping us grow the event,” he said. “Back in 2010, we saw a need for the MLS. From a fan perspective, it made a lot of sense.”
However, Central Florida soccer fans shouldn’t give up all hope just yet. We’re working to confirm information that a high caliber soccer tournament involving major German and Brazilian sides will play at least one leg in Orlando. Be sure to stay tuned and follow us at @TheManeLand and @FootyAmerica on twitter. There will be more to come on both of these stories soon.