Orlando City SC was announced as Major League Soccer’s twenty-first franchise in 2013 but didn’t begin play until the 2015 season. Orlando would be the first MLS team in Florida since the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny.
They immediately made waves in not only MLS but worldwide when they announced their first-ever signing to be Brazilian legend and World Cup winner, Kaká, in 2014.
Orlando City would also get its own soccer specific stadium, Exploria Stadium, but it wouldn’t be available until 2017. In the meantime, Orlando would start life in MLS in the Citrus Bowl, led by head coach Adrian Heath.
The next five years would be a turbulent time for Orlando as they struggled to get results on the pitch. This led to three different head coaches within the five-year span and no playoff appearances.
For the 2020 season, Orlando hired former Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas coach Óscar Pareja. Pareja would straight away make an impact when he led his team to MLS is Back Tournament.
It was a sign of the upcoming transformation the club would undergo under Pareja. That same year, Orlando would finish in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in their history.
They beat New York City FC in the first round but lost against the New England Revolution in the quarterfinals. But Orlando had finally ended their five year streak of missing out on playoffs and had roster and coach to build off of.
In the 2021 season, Orlando would go through some massive changes, this time off-the-pitch, as Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and Exploria Stadium were sold to Zygi and Mark Wilf, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, for an estimated deal of $400 – 450 million.
This wouldn’t change much for Pareja and his team as they went on to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. This time around, they couldn’t get past Nashville SC in the first round.
Orlando City currently sit in 3rd place in the East with an overall record of four wins, two draws, and three losses. Despite their position in the table, Orlando have had mixed performances this season.
At times they are one of the most threatening teams in the league, but inconsistency has hurt their early MLS campaign. They most recently lost 3 – 0 at home against the New York Red Bulls.
Alexandre Pato: The former AC Milan and Chelsea forward has found new life in Orlando. So far this season he has scored two goals and assisted two others in 551 minutes of playing time.
Ercan Kara: Orlando’s new summer signing, striker Ercan Kara, has a good start to life in MLS. Like Pato, he’s also contributed four goals this season. He has acclimated quickly to the league but will be looking to score his first home goal against Charlotte FC.
Júnior Urso: The two-way midfielder has been a staple player for Óscar Pareja since he was signed by Orlando the same year Pareja came arrived at the Club. Fittingly nicknamed “The Bear”, Urso is ultra-aggressive on both the defensive and offensive side of the game.