All posts by Jeff Milby

Louisville City Update: USL Pro to be New Reserve League?

In Don Garber’s State of the League event on Tuesday, a lot of news was made regarding the future of MLS and North American soccer in general. One aspect that hasn’t received too much discussion is the official disbandment of the MLS Reserve League and the league officially becoming “deeply committed to the USL Pro.”

“The Reserve League is going away. Every one of our clubs is either going to own or be affiliated with a USL Pro team,” the commissioner said. “And the reason why we’re doing it with the USL Pro is because they’re interested in doing that. They’re interested in affiliating with us and working together to help develop players.”

So what does this all mean for USL Pro?

Continue reading Louisville City Update: USL Pro to be New Reserve League?


MLS State of the League: Don Garber Excited About Orlando City

Major League Soccer held its annual State of the League event today, albeit with a different format than in the past, and Orlando City had a couple of mentions. Traditionally Commissioner Don Garber would stand behind a podium and address some assembled media, however this year the State of the League discussion shifted to a round-table format with the likes of Rob Stone and Tony Meola asking the commissioner a series of questions. Lasting a little over an hour, the conversation moved between multiple subjects, including the upcoming CBA discussion, expansion, and future playoff plans.

As far as Orlando City is concerned, the commissioner had nothing but good things to say about the Lions. “The noise that’s coming out of that market, it is absolutely unprecedented,” he said.

When asked about expansion in Miami, Garber discussed the folding of Miami Fusion FC and the Tampa Bay Mutiny back in 2001. “We were in that market and we failed.” The commissioner continued, “We’re coming back in Orlando, and that’s looking like it could be one of the best teams out of the box in our history.” Continue reading MLS State of the League: Don Garber Excited About Orlando City

Louisville City: Does Louisville Have the Chops for MLS?

I listen to Louisville’s local ESPN radio affiliate nearly every day. I listen to John Ramsey and Drew Deener in the morning on my way to work and school, and to Jason Anderson, Andy Sweeney, and Bob Valvano (the brother of the late Jimmy V) on my late afternoon rides home. They’re an enjoyable group of guys to listen to. They talk sports in a reasonable and entertaining way, bereft of much of the cliched gimmickry that sports talk radio often loathfully leans on.

They talk college football and basketball mostly, and not terribly much else. This is Louisville, after all, the self-proclaimed “Best College Sports Town in America.” It’s not something they really need to defend, frankly. They know their audience.

You know what I’ve never heard them talk about? Soccer.

Continue reading Louisville City: Does Louisville Have the Chops for MLS?

Louisville City: Signing Announcements Soon?

The weather in Louisville, Kentucky has cooled down considerably this week. We even awoke to find (gasp!) snow on the ground. All before Thanksgiving. However, despite the weather cooling, Louisville City FC news is heating up.

The club held a town hall meeting at Against the Grain Brewery, which is inside its home stadium, Louisville Slugger Field. Coach James O’Connor and club President Djorn Buchholz were made available to answer questions from a crowd of around 100 LCFC fans. Here are my notes on the meeting:

(By the way, if you find yourself wondering what Louisville City FC is, you can find my introduction to the club here.)

  • O’Connor already has expectations for what his first team will look like on the pitch next spring. He expressed his desire to have a team that can play “attacking, possession-based football” featuring a high pressure system with players that will be able to “win the ball back high up the pitch.” He discussed that he has specific expectations for each role on the team, and if a player doesn’t meet those expectations, the club won’t sign him. However, he lamented the dimensions of the pitch at Slugger Field, particularly its lack of length, and said that it may have an effect on his potential style of play. Will O’Connor be successful in bringing visually pleasing, attacking soccer to LCFC? Will LCFC be able to sign players with the requisite skills to play the O’Connor’s system? The coming weeks will be telling. Continue reading Louisville City: Signing Announcements Soon?

Louisville City: Better Know the Front Office, Stadium, Supporters

This is the first of what will be regular weekly posts on Louisville City FC, the USL Pro affiliate of Orlando City and the legacy of what was the Lions’ USL franchise. We hope to bring you all of the pertinent Louisville City news and information as it becomes available. This being the first post, we felt it was a good idea to introduce you to the fledgling club and it’s relationship with Orlando City.

The Principals

Wayne Estopinal – Principal owner of Louisville City FC. Estopinal is the president and founder of TEG Architects and, among his other business interests, is the owner of Mockingbird Valley Sports Complex, which is Louisville’s leading and most visible soccer facility. He has been an investor in a professional soccer team since 2007, including the Austin Aztex franchise that later became Orlando City. An avid soccer fan, he led the push to bring the Orlando City USL franchise to Louisville after MLS awarded Orlando an expansion franchise.

Djorn Buchholz – President of Louisville City FC. Buchholz has been a soccer executive for 13 years, including stops at Sporting Kansas City of MLS as director of fan experience, and Minnesota United FC of the NASL, as president. He more or less is single-handedly responsible for professional soccer’s existence in Minnesota, having run the Minnesota Thunder for four years until 2009, and then taking over the league-owned Minnesota NASL franchise in 2011 and leading it through a rebranding to become as successful a club as there is at its level. He has experience with the Louisville City franchise, having been CEO of the Austin Aztex between stops in Minnesota. Continue reading Louisville City: Better Know the Front Office, Stadium, Supporters

What to Watch For: The Mane Land USMNT Preview

Every MLS coach’s favorite international break (in the middle of the playoffs) is upon us, and with it another round of USA friendlies. This time, Jurgen Klinsmann has elected take the Yanks to the British Isles for a pair of matches against Colombia on Friday (2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN) at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in London, followed by a trip to Dublin to take on Ireland next Tuesday (2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2). As with every national team camp, this one has its fair share of intrigue and storylines. Let’s get to it.

We Have A Lee Nguyen Sighting

The New England Revolution man, who has seemingly become every MLS observer’s favorite midfielder with his blistering scoring run of 20 goals across all competitions this season, makes his return to the national side for the first time in seven years. Can he win Jurgen Klinsmann’s heart and fill the national team’s gaping hole in attacking midfield? The USA haven’t had an effective number 10 in God knows how long, and Michael Bradley showed in Brazil he is anything but capable of filling that role on a full-time basis. There is nothing but opportunity facing Nguyen in this national team camp, and it’s notable that Jurgen didn’t wait until the MLS-heavy January camp to give the 28-year-old Nguyen a call-up. Perhaps he sees a similar opportunity for Nguyen. Will he capitalize? Impressing in this camp and getting some run in these friendlies could be huge in Nguyen’s national team future.

Continue reading What to Watch For: The Mane Land USMNT Preview

Greetings, From Your Louisville Correspondent

[Editor’s Note: Jeff Milby is The Mane Land’s Louisville City FC correspondent and will provide weekly coverage of Orlando City’s USL Pro affiliate this season. We’re excited to have ‘boots on the ground’ in Louisville to bring you this coverage.]

For a sports fan, as in life, it’s the tough moments that shape who you are. It’s the gut-punch losses that leave you feeling empty, used and beaten. The games that you rehash over and over with your friends saying, “What if…?” Every sports fan has their own list of heartbreaks. They are the reasons we keep coming back, to right the list of wrongs.

I wouldn’t be the sports fan I am today if it weren’t for Dwyane Wade triple-doubling his way into the national consciousness and beating the team my 11-year-old-self thought was unbeatable. I can remember the sheer rage that overcame me when Edgar Sosa spoiled what would have been improbable last-minute comeback with an absolute dagger of a shot. And I won’t forget how I didn’t move off of my couch for an hour after the USA couldn’t quite shock the world by coming back to equalize after Belgium went up 2-0 this past summer in Brazil. Continue reading Greetings, From Your Louisville Correspondent