Kaká Plays Last Match in Sao Paolo, Set to Return to Orlando

It looks as if the highest paid player in Major League Soccer will actually be playing in Major League Soccer this spring. Orlando City’s Brazilian DP suited up at home for São Paulo FC last weekend, and he’ll play his last match for the club this Sunday in Recife.

It was clearly an emotional evening for Kaká, as fans reportedly cheered for him throughout the match.

“It was emotional…my teammates congratulating me and the fans applauding. The week has been very special,” Kaka said.

São Paulo is a special team for the former AC Milan man, as he began his youth soccer there at the young age of eight. He signed his first professional contract with them at 15, and played his first senior team match there as well. Orlando City fans will certainly be glad to hear that his time there is coming to an end though and he’s set to join the new MLS squad. Continue reading Kaká Plays Last Match in Sao Paolo, Set to Return to Orlando

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.

Continue reading Is the Future Now for Tyler Turner?

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

Rawlins Elected to USL Hall of Fame

As Orlando City prepares to make the jump to MLS, its president and founder is headed to the USL Hall of Fame. The club announced today that Phil Rawlins has been elected to the Hall in the Builder category.

He will be formally inducted at the USL Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, just two days after his Lions select 10 new players from among active MLS rosters in the Expansion Draft.

“I’m proud to be a part of the growth and development of USL PRO,” said Rawlins. “It’s an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as USL PRO was an important part of our Club’s history.”

Continue reading Rawlins Elected to USL Hall of Fame

Lion Player Profiles: Estrela

The core of Orlando City’s roster is currently built around youth. With all the signings over this past year, one of the most recent ones came towards the end of the USL Pro season. Taking advantage of the partnership with SL Benfica, Orlando City brought in two young Portugese players to play with the first team. One of those players was Valdomiro Tualungo Paulo Lameira, also known more commonly as Estrela.

This defensive midfielder impressed in his limited time with the Lions. Although only playing in eight games last season, Estrela was able to prove his worth, despite his young age. He worked well in tandem with Darwin Cerén in the holding midfield and looked comfortable playing within Adrian Heath’s system, familiarizing himself with it in the span of just a few weeks.

Continue reading Lion Player Profiles: Estrela

Reflections on Orlando City’s Genesis

[Ed. Note: Jeff Leadbeater, our copy editor at The Mane Land, has been on the leading edge of club news from its foundation. In this article, he shares some of his memories of the club’s formation.]

On Thursday, March 4, 2010, I got permission from my workplace to leave early, and went downtown to a press conference. The presser was for the announcement by the United Soccer Leagues (USL) of an expansion franchise in Orlando.

It would be the latest attempt by the USL to bring pro soccer to Orlando. Previous attempts in the 1990s didn’t work. But with the tightening of social media, the disparate fan groups were finally beginning to gel and were crying out for a team of their own.

Continue reading Reflections on Orlando City’s Genesis

MLS Playoff Weekend: Exploring the Conference Finals

After a thrilling weekend, the final two teams in the race to the MLS Cup have been decided. This Sunday the LA Galaxy will play host to the New England Revolution in a game that will crown the new MLS Cup champion and conclude the 2014 season.

Fortunately for Major League Soccer (and all us writers), this past weekend has been full of compelling storylines and captivating narratives that we all get to talk about. It has also set the stage for an exciting final, chock full of stories of its own to explore.

For me, this has been one of the most entertaining playoff races in quite some time and, as a neutral, I found myself discovering more and more reasons to pull for each of the four teams. Although two of the four teams have been eliminated, there are still plenty of questions left to be answered and many story arcs left to be resolved. Here are some of my favorite talking points that have developed from these Conference Finals.  Continue reading MLS Playoff Weekend: Exploring the Conference Finals

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