As always during the Carolina Challenge Cup, there’s a lot of local soccer activity today, but at the moment no screaming headlines.
Development academy teams were on display on Daniel Island and at Blackbaud Stadium (that’s Charleston’s team wrapping up a morning session in the photo above), and the Houston Dynamo conducted an intraquad scrimmage on the Battery’s usual training field (gingerly fishing stray balls out of the alligator pond, which caught the attention of the Fire’s media staff last week).
The Vancouver Whitecaps beat the College of Charleston 2-0 Sunday in a scrimmage at Patriots Point, with MLS veteran and new Vancouver acquisition Paulo Jr. scoring both goals in the first half.
The Chicago Fire also got in a scrimmage Sunday, defeating the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 4-2 with a squad that the club described as “reserves.” No video highlights from that one, yet.
NEW ORLANDO OWNER: Stepping back from Charleston, the most interesting item of the day comes out of USL PRO, where league attendance leader Orlando City just upped its ante in the increasingly expensive MLS expansion game by landing a wealthy Brazilian investor. Brazilian entrepreneur Flávio Augusto da Silva made his fortune with a chain of English-language schools, and with the new agreement established himself as the future primary owner of Orlando City Soccer Club.
“Orlando is a very special city, because it is very close to the South American market and close to the European market, two regions that really love soccer,” da Silva said. “We were researching a franchise in another place, but we believe Orlando is a really good city to invest.”
With stadium quality a big issue in MLS these days, the club is lobbying to get state and local taxpayers to foot the bill for a publicly funded soccer-specific stadium. Their current plans call for an 18,000-seat facility located near the Orlando Magic’s publicly funded Amway Arena, with the ownership group pitching in $30 million and taxpayers funding the rest. Orlando’s mayor seems to be on board, but there’s opposition in the legislature.
Adding da Silva to the ownership group is a boost for Orlando’s chances, but are the reporters correct when they state that “(MLS) Commissioner Don Garber has all but promised Orlando City Soccer Club a franchise?” While Orlando is certainly in the mix, a second New York club in Queens is believed to be the frontrunner, and other cities are making their cases.