Lions Will Play Preseason Tourney in Charleston

Orlando City’s inaugural MLS preseason will include a round robin tournament in Charleston, S.C. in February against NYCFC, the Houston Dynamo and the USL Pro’s Charleston Battery—the latter being familiar faces to City fans.

The 12th annual Carolina Challenge Cup will be held at Blackbaud Stadium Feb. 21-28, just weeks before the 2015 MLS season kicks off. It will mark the first time the two new MLS expansion clubs—Orlando City and NYCFC—will face each other.

“The (CCC) will give us the opportunity to test our mettle as we put the final touches on our squad ahead of our MLS debut,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath in Charleston’s press release. “The competition should be outstanding as we’ll face a number of established MLS teams, our fellow league newcomers NYCFC and former USL PRO rivals Charleston Battery. We’re looking forward to the tournament as a nice cap to our preseason and hope to see many of our fans there to support us.”

“It will be an exciting challenge for us to take part in the Cup which is MLS-sanctioned for the first time this year,” NYCFC Head Coach Jason Kreis told nycfc.com. “It’s a competition I have experience of competing in, so I know how well organized and how competitive it is.

Although not in the challenge this year, DC United is the most successful club in its history, winning the cup four times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014) since its inception in 2004. The Houston Dynamo has won it twice (2006, 2007). Host Charleston has never won it but has been runner-up on two occasions (2008, 2011). Other winners include the Columbus Crew (2004), San Jose Earthquakes (2005, 2008), Real Salt Lake (2009) and Chicago Fire (2013).

Said Mike Anhaeuser, Battery general manager and head coach:

“This is a fresh and very exciting field this year, with probably the biggest names from world soccer that we’ve ever brought to Charleston. Kaká, Lampard, David Villa. Those are world-class players. And that’s not to mention the (U.S.) national team players from the World Cup: (DaMarcus) Beasley, (Brad) Davis, maybe some more by the time the tournament starts. It’s very exciting for the Battery as a club, and for the community.”

The club has not yet announced any additional preseason plans, such as the long rumored trip to Brazil.

Tickets for the event go on sale Nov. 28.

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