ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Orlando City Soccer Club has been saying for quite some time that they wanted to add a women’s professional team to their roster. On Tuesday, they made it official, announcing their new National Women’s Soccer League team known as the Orlando Pride. “We said when the time is right that we would bring women’s professional soccer here to the City Beautiful and to Central Florida. The time is right and the time is now,” said team President and Founder Phil Rawlins.
Orlando Pride will take the field in April of 2016. “We know the community wants it. We’ve had all kinds of feedback that this would be a success so why not do it today and get us into the league in ‘16 when we can build on what we’ve done in MLS,” said Rawlins.
Orlando Pride will be the 10th franchise in the NWSL, which just wrapped up its third season. Tom Sermanni was introduced as head coach at the news conference. “We wanted someone who had experience in the game, international experience. This is an international league. We’ve got girls playing in the league from all around the world, someone who knows the game internationally, who knows the international players who play in this league and has got experience working with superstars. That’s Tom, 8 years as head coach of Australia, 2 years as head coach of the USWNT,” said Rawlins.
Sermanni told the crowd of more than 100 people who gathered for the announcement that he’s excited to coach Orlando Pride and be part of the Orlando City family. “I’ve known Phil for a couple of years so I’ve been watching the team fairly closely. So I kind of get the sense from outside, but it’s not until you come here and actually see how big it is and see the support it gets in the city. And, I don’t think of any other city in the US where soccer is given this status that it is here,” said Sermanni.
There have not been any player signings yet. Both Rawlins and Sermanni said they would love to sign US Women’s National Team super star Alex Morgan. “It would be fantastic to get a player of that stature here, probably the most dynamic women’s futbol, soccer player in the world,” said Sermanni. It could help that Morgan’s husband plays for Orlando City. Rawlins and Sermanni also have their eyes on Ashlyn Harris, one of the goalkeepers for the USWNT. “It’s great to have a role model for the girls, particularly when that role model comes from our community. She’s right her from the space coast so it would be great to bring Ashlyn back,” said Rawlins. He also said it will likely be a few weeks before Orlando Pride makes any big player announcements.
Several members of Orlando City Youth ECNL (Elite Clubs National League) team helped unveil the team’s new logo today. Rawlins says just like the youth academy is designed to work as a feeder system for OCSC, the ECNL will do the same for Orlando Pride. “We want to see our girls through our ECNL program coming through and have the opportunity to play here for Orlando Pride in our local community.”
Just like the Orlando City, Orlando Pride will start the ’16 season in the Citrus Bowl, then call the new stadium home once it’s complete. Rawlins says they are still working on a training site for the Pride. 2016 Orlando Pride season tickets will go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. on Oct. 25. Fans can visit www.Orlando-Pride.com for more information. Tickets start at $13 per game during the initial season ticket sales period for 10 home games.
Fox 35 Weather Authority