Orlando City SC on Tuesday announced plans to own and operate a USL team of their own in Central Florida for the 2016 season, pending formal approval from USL and MLS. The club named longtime player and staff coach Anthony Pulis, son of English club West Brom Albion's manager Tony Pulis, as the new head coach of the USL team.
The move makes the Lions the ninth MLS club to field its own USL side, following LA, Montreal, the New York Red Bulls, Portland, Real Salt Lake, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.
OCSC confirmed that their current USL affiliate relationship with Louisville City SC will change “from an affiliation to a long-term formal partnership” after the current season, and marked that switch with the news that Louisville City will host Orlando City for an exhibition match on Aug. 25.
“Today is yet another significant milestone in the upward growth of Orlando City,” said Orlando's Vice President of Development, Tim Holt, in a statement. “Fielding USL and MLS teams are not mutually exclusive endeavors. We believe both are integral to realizing the future objectives of our club, which is why our pursuit of a USL team is so critical to our continued success.
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“It will prove to be an important resource, close to home, to help accelerate the training and development of our emerging players. It will also allow for the further expansion of opportunities to connect with our dedicated fan base and the Central Florida sports community well into the future.”
OCSC will release additional details on the new team's name, crest, venue and players in the coming months, stating that the front office “is evaluating stadium alternatives throughout Central Florida with a focus on a stadium that will provide for an exciting, vibrant fan atmosphere and be well-suited for USL soccer.”