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Orlando Awarded Major League Soccer Team

Orlando City Soccer fans celebrate on Church Street, photo by Amy Kiley
Orlando City Soccer fans celebrate on Church Street, photo by Amy Kiley

It's official: the Orlando City Soccer Club is becoming a major league franchise. Fans celebrated the announcement on Church Street in downtown Orlando Tuesday night.

Purple-clad soccer fans sporting glow necklaces and Mardi Gras beads filled the Cheyenne Saloon, the street in front and neighboring restaurants. They came to hear one thing: MLS Commissioner Don Garber declaring the Lions will go pro in 2015.

“It’s my pleasure to welcome Orlando City SC as Major League Soccer’s 21st expansion team!” said Garber.

Coach Adrian Heath added to the announcement – with a promise. “We’re going to be there to be the best team that is possible,” Heath told fans.

It was no surprise that Orlando would be awarded an MLS team following approval of an $80 million stadium.

What supporters can’t predict is how the franchise will fare financially after teams folded in Miami and Tampa.

Success depends on fans like 9-year-old Natalie Reynolds.  "More people are becoming interested," Reynolds told WMFE. "They decided to play soccer, probably, and they get better and better. They might grow up, and it might keep going and going. Because someday I know I could grow up to become one of them, and it just gets me excited," she said.

The Orlando City Lions will join the MLS in March 2015, keeping their name and colors.