Orlando City formally announced the formation of its NWSL team, the Orlando Pride, to begin play in 2016.
Orlando City announced Tuesday they will form a NWSL team — the Orlando Pride — to begin play in the 2016 season, naming former U.S. National Team and Australia National Team coach Tom Sermanni as the team’s first head coach.
With the tremendous success of Orlando City in town and the growing buzz about women’s soccer and the NWSL after the U.S. won the Women’s World Cup, the match of Orlando with the NWSL seemed to be a good fit. And with the Lions continuing to fill out the Citrus Bowl as one of the best home field advantages in the MLS, it seemed a good time for another soccer expansion.
“The time is right for women’s professional soccer here in Central Florida, and we are excited to launch this new team for 2016,” Orlando City president Phil Rawlins said. “We want to win championships and build one of the best women’s teams in world soccer. We have taken a strong first step in this direction by naming Tom Sermanni as head coach of the Pride. Tom brings world class experience to our city, combined with the expertise to build a winning franchise. This is a thrilling time for our organization, our partners, and for fans in the ‘Soccer Capital of the South.’
“With the successful launch of the MLS team, as well as the 2016 launch of the NWSL and USL teams, this region continues to reap the economic benefit of world class professional soccer.”
The Pride will begin building their roster through the expansion draft and the NWSL’s draft in the coming weeks and months. But already there are several rumors regarding the star players from the U.S. Women’s National Team who could find their way into Orlando purple soon.
Already there are reports the Pride will go after international superstar Alex Morgan, whose husband Servando Carrasco plays for Orlando City, in addition to Ashlyn Harris and possibly Sydney Leroux have been connected to the Orlando team even before it was officially announced.
Like with the Lions, there is apparently already a ton of interest in players coming to Orlando.
The Pride already have a strong coach in Sermanni who led Australia to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup twice and accumulated a 17-2-4 record in a two-year run as the U.S. Women’s National Team coach. He has spent several years coaching in the NWSL and women’s soccer in the United States during and since those stints.
The Pride will play their games in their opening season at the Citrus Bowl, moving to Orlando City’s new stadium upon completion. Knowing how Orlando City likes to run things, it would not be at all surprising to see the Pride jump up in the standings quickly or make several aggressive plays to go after winning.
The team has not been afraid to think big on these projects.
This project has been in the works for a while now and it was clearly a good match. Orlando featured the highest attended women’s soccer game during the U.S. Women’s National Team’s tour in 2013 and another capacity crowd is expected at the Citrus Bowl on Sunday for a Victory Tour game against Brazil.