All posts by Kevin Mitchell Mercer

@KevinIsHistory

Transfer Rumors: Benfica’s Yannick Djaló to Orlando City?

Portuguese sports site A Bola is reporting that Benfica striker Yannick Djaló is looking to enter the January transfer market in search of a new club, with Orlando City being rumored his favored destination. There is already a solid relationship between Benfica and Orlando City, a partnership that has seen the American club bring over two young players on transfer from Portugal, as well as sending its players to train at the iconic European club.

Djaló began his career at rival Sporting, where he appeared 98 times and found the net 23 times. His time at Benfica has been dominated by injuries and loans to French club Toulouse and MLS side San Jose Earthquakes. His loan in MLS lasted 17 games and saw him score 3 times. He was also named MLS Player of the Week while stateside.

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Is the Future Now for Tyler Turner?

At 18 years old, it would be easy to think of defender Tyler Turner as a future prospect for Orlando City. The club has invested heavily in youth ahead of its first MLS season, and Turner is certainly a critical part of that plan.

If his first year as a professional, in USL Pro with Orlando City and during his numerous call ups for the US Men’s U-17, U-18, and U-20 teams are any indication, Turner could be ready for a breakout season. Naturally a central defender, Turner plays with a maturity and on-field intelligence one would expect of a veteran.

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Our City: The State of Our In-State Rivalries

As a relatively young club, our search for in-state (and regional) rivalries has been a slow process. Our time in USL Pro provided no real regional foes to stir the imagination. Wilmington and Charleston were good rivals on the field, but too far away to create anything significant. A lot of respect goes to the supporters that made that long drive a few times. VSI Tampa Bay FC had a one-year run in USL Pro, long enough to prove Plant City isn’t ready for minor league soccer.

Major League Soccer has made rivalries a cornerstone of its MLS 2.0 reboot. Understanding international footballing culture provides multiple blueprints for some of the most heated rivalries in the sports world. Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce, Celtic FC vs. Rangers, West Ham vs. Milwall—these are the kinds of games that supporters live for and local police forces train for.

MLS has done its best to recreate a North London Derby with teams scattered across the expanses of the American landscape. Portland vs. Seattle, two clubs with long legacies dating back to the NASL, easily comes to mind, but Dallas vs. Houston, San Jose vs. LA Galaxy, and DC United vs. New York Red Bulls have all cultivated passionate rivalries over the years.

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FIFA Fizzle: How Orlando City is (not really totally) in EA Sports’ FIFA 15

For years I’ve been creating my own Orlando City teams (and prior to City, my own fictitious Orlando teams) since FIFA 1990-something-or-another. Needless to say, when Orlando Founder and President Phil Rawlins announced that the club would be in FIFA 15’s November update I began to anticipate the date like a kid waits for Christmas. Finally a chance to play the club with official everything!

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Our City: Can Orlando Turn EPL fans into MLS Fans?

Over the last few years, Orlando City has had an absolute romp, playing its way to numerous USL Pro titles. The Lions have played a fun, aggressive, and attacking style favored by many American fans. Exciting play and winning are two key parts of any formula to draw in the crowds. Two memorable, edge-of-your-seat, USL Pro Finals are the kinds of games to turn the casual fan into a die-hard. And the supporters came, with impressive enough attendance figures to draw interest from MLS, where there was none before.

Over these past few seasons, I found myself trying to pull my English Premiere League friends and acquaintances to games, with little or no interest on their end. I get it; third division American soccer is a hard sell. Matchups with teams from Antigua and Harrisburg didn’t really get my friends’ imaginations running wild, I suppose. They had their Liverpools and their Arsenals to support.

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Orlando’s Soccer Legacy: The 1998 MLS All-Star Game

When Orlando City takes the field next year for its first MLS season, it won’t be the first time Major League Soccer is played at the Citrus Bowl. That occurred back in 1998, when the then four-year-old league played its All-Star Game in Orlando. MLS has famously tinkered with its All-Star Game format over the years, before settling on its current ‘MLS All-Stars vs. European Super Club with availability during the summer’ format.

The All-Star Game itself is a very American idea; an exhibition of players thrown together from across the league for an annual showcase. These games are notoriously wild and loose, and 1998’s game fit this model with plenty of goals and lots of fancy footwork on display. Continue reading Orlando’s Soccer Legacy: The 1998 MLS All-Star Game

Our City: In Phil Rawlins We Trust

This is the first of what I hope will become a weekly column focused on my perspective as a supporter of the Orlando City. I’d love to incorporate your experiences and stories, so feel free to get in touch by commenting here or finding me on Twitter.      

I sat behind Orlando City owner and president Phil Rawlins once. No this isn’t a story about how we hit it off instantly and rounds of drinks were bought. This was just Orlando City’s first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game and I was one of the few obvious City supporters at the game. Attendance is listed at a generous 1,139 for the overmatched first round game against ASC New Stars (Houston, TX). If I recall correctly he gave me a polite nod.

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