Orlando City SC’s academy and reserve side will join the first team at the club’s state-of-the-art new training facility at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, the club announced on Wednesday, bringing the MLS side’s full development apparatus together under one roof.
The 20-acre training complex, currently under construction, will include four fields, three natural grass and one artificial turf, as well as a fitness, training and recovery center, film room, players’ lounge and meal room. The first team will use two of the grass fields, while the Lions’ Development Academy squads and OCB, their USL League One side, will use the third grass field and the turf field.
“I can’t emphasize the importance of having everyone together, having everyone in the same building. You have the first team players, the academy players and the OCB players all working under the same philosophy; they’re all working together and there’s a family atmosphere about what you are trying to do,” Orlando head coach James O’Connor said in a club release.
“Having come through an academy system myself, it’s something I want to be able to do. I want to be able to give opportunities to young players.”
In fact, the kids will even get to move into the new digs first.
The academy teams will begin using the new facility when the 2019/20 DA season opens in September, while the first team and OCB will finish their current seasons in their present homes at Sylvan Lake Park and Montverde Academy, respectively, before pulling up stakes and relocating to Osceola Heritage Park ahead of their 2020 campaigns.
“We are very excited and appreciative that the club has decided to increase its already considerable investment in the new training complex, showing its commitment to the development of our youth players and the future of Orlando City. The move to Osceola is a huge step for this club,” EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said.
All in all, it represents a significant synchronizing of OCSC’s player development pathway, drawing the Lions closer to the successful model used at MLS academy leaders like FC Dallas, where Muzzi worked before joining Orlando in December.
“I think it’s a huge step for the club, for the first team, for the youth, for OCB and for the whole development pyramid of the club,” he added. “It gives us the ability to bring the youth together under the same roof – seeing the first team, interacting with the first team and why not training with the first team?”
OCSC also announced that the Orlando Pride, their NWSL team, will get their own training complex. The Sylvan Lake Park facility will undergo renovations after the completion of the current season and become “the first training facility in the NWSL that is tailored to, and used only, by a women’s team.”