On November 19, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and expansion team owners Flávio Augusto da Silva and Phil Rawlins announced that Orlando will join the league in 2015 as the League's 21st team. Orlando's new MLS team, Orlando City Soccer Club, will join as an expansion team for the league’s 20th season.
With the addition of Orlando, MLS has added 11 clubs since the beginning of the 2005 season, leading to a remarkable and rapid transformation of professional soccer in North America. NYC FC was awarded the 20th franchise earlier in 2012 - also set to begin in 2015 - and MLS has also announced that three more expansion teams will be added by 2020.
Orlando City’s inaugural season will see the club open its own soccer stadium in downtown Orlando, with construction scheduled to begin in spring of 2014. Prior to moving into the new stadium in the summer of 2015, Orlando City will play matches at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
Da Silva, a native of Brazil, leads Orlando City's ownership group, which includes club Founder and President Phil Rawlins, Chairman John Bonner and 10 local partners. Da Silva previously owned Wise Up, a group of more than 400 language schools operating in five countries, and currently owns Geração de Valor (Valuable Generation), a company dedicated to developing young entrepreneurs. He is the former chairman of Ometz Group, an organization consisting of 16 holding companies, including Wise Up.
Originally from the United Kingdom and a part-owner of English Premier League club Stoke City, Rawlins founded and developed a highly successful information technology sales and marketing consulting company. He founded the Austin Aztex, a USL PRO team, in 2007, before moving the team to Orlando in late 2010.
MLSsoccer.com has comprehensive coverage of the announced. Click the links below for more:
- Top 10 Moments in Orlando soccer history
- Get to know Orlando City SC - Logo, colors, jersey, history, and more
- Orlando have talked with Brazil's Kaka - club's first DP?
- Owners see years of hard work bear fruit, promise more to come