Last week, we reported the addition of the Florida Cup tournament at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, as a de facto replacement for the canceled 2015 Pro Soccer Challenge, in which Orlando City used to take part each preseason. Today, the club and Disney released additional details about the event, which will be held on Jan. 15 in Orlando and Jan. 17 in Jacksonville.
The four clubs involved are indeed German sides Bayer Leverkusen and 1. FC Köln, and the Brazilian teams are Corinthians and Fluminese. The teams will play a double header at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Jan. 15 and another twin bill in Jacksonville on Jan. 17. The Florida Cup will have both a club winner and a country winner. Teams receive three points for winning a match, one point for a regulation tie and an additional point for winning the penalty shootout after a draw.
“Orlando City is delighted to help bring premier world class soccer to Central Florida, reinforcing our commitment to fans and the community, while further strengthening the region’s reputation as the ‘Soccer Capital of the South’ just a few weeks before our historic debut in Major League Soccer,” said Orlando City SC Founder and President Phil Rawlins.
The Florida Cup is yet another example of world class soccer coming to Central Florida. Disney hosted Orlando City’s home matches in USL Pro in 2014 during renovations to the Citrus Bowl. The complex has also paid host to AS Roma off-season training, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, the Disney International Cup and the Disney Soccer Showcase, among others.
“The Florida Cup represents yet another opportunity for soccer fans to experience world-class international soccer at an intimate, family-friendly venue such as ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,’’ said Disney Sports business manager Patrick Dicks. “This will be international soccer at its best and a fan experience to match.”
“The idea behind creating the Florida Cup was to identify an ideal time of year when these top clubs could combine their need for a quality pre-season training camp with some competitive matches, while also building awareness for their brands in key international markets, such as the US,’’ said 2SV Sports president and former soccer player Ricardo Villar. “I think the Florida Cup embodies all of those things through our local sports infrastructure, key partners and innovative tournament format. We hope to continue to grow the event in 2016.’’
The four clubs will arrive in Orlando for training in early January, leading up to the event on Jan. 15.
The event will also include a panel discussion on Jan. 14 involving representatives from Brazilian and German clubs and leagues, as well as Orlando City SC. A variety of soccer-related topics will be discussed, including youth development, sports marketing, global league structures, among other topics.