Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Orlando Friendlies?

With a flurry of announcements in the last few days of European based teams coming to the states for friendly dates this summer, a lot of people have been asking what we know about Orlando's plans for matches.

Last summer, the City Beautiful, played host to the Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United with both teams setting up training camps in the area for the week(s) they were stateside. The matches were well attended, with the Newcastle match drawing the largest crowd of just under 11,000 to the Citrus Bowl.

What we are hearing is that the rumor of Stoke City signing on for a friendly against Orlando City is all but certain. We have been suggesting this for sometime based solely on the fact that Orlando President Phil Rawlins is also on the board of directors at Stoke, and that he and his lovely wife Kay are both life-long season ticket holders of the club. We have heard the final details are being put together and barring any major breakdown, an announcement will be made in the next two weeks about the match which should fall in late July. A couple of people have been suggesting this to be the case, but maybe that's just because they read it here. HA!

We are also hearing that second team is in the works for an Orlando friendly, but that they might not be from the English Premier League like Stoke, Bolton, and Newcastle. Whether that means a Championship level team like Burnley, where Orlando part-owner Brandon Flood is a board member, or a team from France, Spain, or Italy, we don't know yet. We know that Paris St.-Germain has only a single match date announced so far as part of the World Football Challenge (NYC July 22nd) and they will likely play three or four matches if they are in the states training for two weeks. PSG, who sit in 2nd in Ligue 1 with 2 matches left, would be a big land for Orlando if they could work out those details. An even bigger draw might be to land one of the World Football Challenge dates between two top European clubs. Las Vegas, a non-MLS town, will announce officially later today that they will be hosting Real Madrid and Juventus for a match on August 5th; so the possibility of Orlando getting a match does exist. The downside is the lack of cross-marketing for Orlando City if their team isn't playing in the match.

The bottom line is that we should hear an announcement from the club on both matches in the next two to three weeks as the European clubs finalize their summer travel plans. The best place to find all the latest information on 2012 US Summer Friendly information is on our dedicated page here.

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