2. Florida again? - Why would Florida ever get another MLS team? Florida has failed twice with MLS teams, closing up shop on the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion in 2001. That was a different time; the league was coming down off the highs of the 1994 World Cup and trying to find its identity in the vast American sports landscape. Frankly, if Don Garber hadn't taken the reigns from then commissioner Doug Logan, MLS would have gone the way of the old NASL and previous failed professional soccer leagues. Orlando is home to just one professional sports team, the Magic, who just moved into the state-of-the-art Amway Center downtown. Attendance was strong in the first season and the indications are that next season (whenever that is) will have equally impressive numbers. Look at the numbers for Orlando City at the all-but-abandoned Citrus Bowl; 8,300 fans for the match against Richmond this past weekend and likely 10,000 plus for the USL Pro Championship this coming Saturday. Attendance for professional sports in Florida will always be a risk; there is no way around it except marketing. Besides, how can you establish a presence in the Southeast if you don't start with a single team staking a claim?
3. Ownership - Orlando Sports Holdings, owners of Orlando City, are made up of a number of big hitters from the English football scene. Phil Rawlins is a board member for Stoke City and Brendan Flood is a board member with Burnley (now in the Championship League); that's a little more history than most stateside ownership groups have with soccer. The group moved the Austin Aztex to Orlando with the sole intention of getting into a better market so they could pursue an MLS expansion team within 3-5 years. Rawlins stated from the beginning that he wanted Orlando to become a world-class soccer destination and he held up his word by bringing Newcastle and Bolton to play friendlies at the Citrus Bowl this past summer. Furthermore, the club was able to sign a jersey sponsorship deal with Orlando Health, not typical for a expansion team at the USL Pro level. The money and marketing machines are already turning with the current version of Orlando City, and there is no reason to believe that it won't continue and grow stronger with an MLS franchise.
One thing's for sure, people are taking notice of Orlando and a victory this weekend in the USL Pro Championship will only further solidify City as a front-runner in the expansion debate. What are your thoughts on Orlando being awarded the next MLS franchise? Let us know by leaving your comments below or hit us up on Facebook and Twitter.