After several reports over the past week or so, Orlando City SC officially announced on Wednesday that it has sold it’s USL PRO franchise rights to Louisville, Kentucky as it prepares to enter Major League Soccer in 2015. And in selling those right, Louisville City FC will enter USL PRO as it’s 17th team starting next spring.
“We are excited for the future of pro soccer in Louisville,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins in a statement. “It’s a perfect USL Pro marketplace. I feel strongly that Louisville will be a successful team both on and off the field for years to come. I am thrilled to be partnering with Wayne Estopinal and his group of investors.”
Estopinal will become a majority owner of the club, after being a partial owner of Orlando City, who will be using Louisville as their child club starting next year, and will use Louisville as a place to send some of their younger talent, just as Orlando City has done with Sporting KC.
The new USL PRO franchise currently has plans to play their home games in a minor league baseball park in Louisville, which is currently the home of the Louisville Bats, a minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
In addition, Louisville announced that current Orlando City player/coach James O’Connor will take over as the first manager club history, effective immediately. O’Connor, who currently holds an UEFA PRO coaching license, which is considered to be the highest coaching certificate in the world, will begin his first professional head coaching job at only 34 years old.
During the press conference held in Louisville this afternoon, Rawlins said that Orlando City and Louisville will play each other in a friendly before the 2015 season, so that’ll be a fun treat for us to watch.
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