Orlando City unveiled as newest MLS expansion team
The Lions will play one more season in USL-Pro before joining MLS in 2015.
One of the worst-kept secrets in the history of sports is now official: Orlando City will become the 21st MLS franchise and begin play in 2015. The announcement, which had been only very thinly disguised for about a week, was made on Tuesday in downtown Orlando.
Orlando's entry into MLS marks the league's return to Florida for the first time since the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were contracted following the 2001 season. In the meantime, MLS has grown tremendously, with Orlando City being the 11th expansion team to join the league since that season. They could soon by joined by two more teams in the South, as David Beckham appears close to finalizing a deal to bring a team to Miami and Falcons owner Arthur Blank seems keen on bringing a team to Atlanta.
They also already have a jersey sponsor secured, as Orlando Health has signed on to continued their support into the MLS era and funding in place for a new downtown, soccer-specific stadium.
With New York City FC already slated to begin play in 2015 and Atlanta and Miami expected to be awarded franchises in the near future, that leaves one more spot for MLS to fill in order to reach their goal of having 24 teams by 2020. At this rate, though, that quota could be filled long before then.
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