New expansion team Orlando City plan to take MLS global: "We can help internationalize the league"
And it took them just two months to do it.
It's early evidence of one market that Orlando City are convinced they can unlock when they join MLS for their debut season as an expansion team in 2015: Brazil.
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"This shows that the Brazilians are vey, very interested in soccer in America," OCSC owner Flávio Augusto da Silva said on a media conference call on Wednesday. "They are discovering that MLS is a great league and Orlando City has a Brazilian owner and we intend to bring a Brazilian soccer star to the team.
"So I believe that Brazil is going to be a very important market for us as a club but also for MLS to expand their brand and expand their business. We believe in that."
Da Silva, who hails from Brazil and took over Orlando City seven months ago, made clear in no uncertain terms that he will not be transforming OCSC into a Brazilian club. But that doesn't mean that he won't try to make Orlando City the most well-known American club there.
The Brazilian connection — da Silva came from a poor neighborhood in Brazil and became a multimillionaire through the language school business he founded — is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the newest team in Major League Soccer. He believes that OCSC can tap into Brazilians' passion for soccer and Orlando — the city is the No. 1 tourist destination for his compatriots, according to the Rio de Janeiro native.
But Orlando City are not stopping there.
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Club president Phil Rawlins, who hails from England and is a part owner of English Premier League club Stoke City, believes that Orlando City can help make MLS more relevant in other countries in addition to Brazil.
"I think we can help internationalize the league if that's a word," Rawlins said on the same conference call. "I said this to Commissioner Garber when we first met: The league has some very lofty goals and I think there's a great future ahead for Major League Soccer on a global basis and there's no better city in the world to do that through than Orlando. The most visited city in the world just got married with the world's biggest game. That in itself is explosive.
"The opportunities we have to help internationalize Major League Soccer, reach different market places, reach communities and markets that maybe today don't know about Major League Soccer. So I think we'll change a lot in a very, very positive way particularly with the awareness that we bring."