Tuesday afternoon a large crowd of purple gathered in front of the Lake Eola fountain, a location that would soon make sense to the media and fans eagerly awaiting a special announcement from Orlando City’s Phil Rawlins.
The announcement started off with Rawlins announcing that in addition to an MLS team and a USL team, Central Florida would be getting another soccer team. The National Women’s Soccer League, NWSL, would be coming to Orlando as well. For months the rumor mill turned with this possibility and on Tuesday afternoon it became a reality. Orlando Pride would be the 10th expansion team in the NWSL.
Once the name was revealed they unveiled the logo for the new team. A blue image of the Lake Eola fountain encircled by a purple ring. The word Orlando sits on top in the ring and Pride sits below the fountain in the ring. There is no lion or city on the logo, something that many people have been angered by. Rawlins later explained on his Facebook page that because the MLS is sponsored by Adidas and the NWSL is sponsored by Nike the logos could not be similar to one another. It does still beg the question why the fountain at Lake Eola was chosen as the landmark.
In addition to announcing the team and revealing the logo, the new coach of the team was announced. Tom Sermanni will be the head coach of the Pride in its inaugural season. Sermanni’s resume is impressive as he has been both the Australian women’s team head coach and the U.S. women’s team head coach.
“The name ‘Orlando Pride’ captures how we all feel about the City of Orlando, as well as firmly tying into the Lions family,” stated Rawlins. “The time is right for women’s professional soccer here in Central Florida, and we are excited to launch this new team for 2016. 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.’
The Orlando Pride will start playing professional soccer in April of 2016. Season tickets are currently in presale to current Orlando City season ticket holders until 1pm on Sunday October 25, when season tickets will open up to the rest of the public. Season tickets include all 10 home games that will be played at the Citrus Bowl, until the new downtown stadium is finished, at which time the Pride will transition to its new residence.
Though no players have been announced there are already plenty of rumors swirling around as to who our first signings will be. Regardless of who it is, it is an exciting time for soccer in Orlando.