Friday, February 28, 2014

Day after: Turner staying grounded after first Pro contract with Orlando City Soccer

Courtesy of US Soccer
By Mike Gramajo

Not only did a successful stint with the U.S. National Team U-18 help defender Tyler Turner to his first professional contract with Orlando City SC, but a superb performance in preseason camp paved the way as well. 

“I really do think it (Disney Pro Soccer Classic) gave me a little bit of a boost,” Turner told the OSJ via phone interview. “It also gave me preparation so I’ll know what to work on. It gave me a preview of what next year will be.” 

Orlando City’s newest member joined the Lions on Thursday, signing a multi-year deal that includes a spot in Orlando’s MLS squad in 2015. 

Turner, who has been playing in the right-back position during the Lions’ Disney Classic preseason tournament, also said he looks to lean toward veteran defenders Rob Valentino and Luke Boden for advice, given they’re already adapted to head coach Adrian Heath’s system. 

Despite just being only 17-years-old, the IMG Academy product has received plenty of praise for his performances with the United States U17 and U18 national team in the past year. 

Although once 2015 rolls by, Turner will be one of the few teenagers in Major League Soccer, but acknowledges teenage stars such as Diego Fagundez, Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore as important figures who herald the way for players in his age group. 

“I think they’ve paved their way to their own road, and I look up to them. But I want to pave my own way and see where I can take myself,” added Turner. “I always tell my friends and family that the biggest thing I want to do if I sign a professional contract is to stay grounded and humble.” 

You can catch Turner play on Saturday, as Orlando City takes on the New York Red Bulls for third place in the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. 

Below is a video of Turner scoring a goal for the U.S U-17 vs. Brazil: 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Report: Orlando City to sign U.S. national team U-18 defender to MLS contract

By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City SC’s fourth Major League Soccer signing maybe coming sooner than expected. 

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, the Lions are bound to sign United States national team U-18 defender Tyler Turner to a professional contract, which will include a spot in Orlando’s MLS squad in 2015. 

Orlando City has yet to comment on the report. 

Turner, 18, is currently playing with Orlando as a trialist during the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, and played on Wednesday night’s match vs. the Columbus Crew. 

If Turner does sign with the Lions, he joins midfielders Darwin Ceren, Kevin Molino and Yordany Alvarez as Orlando’s MLS signees for 2015. 

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What do you make of the report? Glad to see Orlando adding a young defender to their squad?

Share your thoughts below. 

Lions and Crew battle in score-fest draw

Photo | Joe Petro / OCSC 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orlando City SC and the Columbus Crew played to a 4-4 draw on Wednesday night in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, in what was a back-and-forth game from start to finish. 

Dennis Chin scored his first goal of the preseason in the 88th minute, giving Orlando City what looked like the game-winning goal, but Columbus’ Ethan Finlay came and scored the game-tying goal in the 90th minute.

“I was overdue,” said Chin about his goal. “Preseason's all about getting sharp and just trying to get as many as your chances in as possible. It’s good to get my first one in, hopefully it’s more.”

Both teams scored a combined five goals during the final 14 minutes of the game, including one from newly re-signed midfielder Adama Mbengue.

All-in-all, OCSC got three goals from three different midfielders, showing that the chemistry is starting to improve in the middle.

“We’re starting to get some chemistry within the group,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “The combination play within the mid-third of the field is becoming very, very good.

“We’re still growing and trying to put this next group of players together, there’s six or seven news players and everybody’s still not completely on the same page with their roles and responsibilities.”

Darwin Ceren was one of the Lions’ midfielders to put the ball in the back of the net on Wednesday, giving him his first goal for the Purple Kits. 

The preseason is still young for Orlando City, as this was only their fourth game all year. The Lions will return to Disney on Saturday to face the New York Red Bulls for the third place spot in the preseason tournament on Saturday, kickoff set for 6:00 p.m. 

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do , we know that, still got a lot of stuff to nail down,” said Heath. “There’s certain things that please me and there’s stuff that doesn’t, but that’s what preseason's about.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Orlando City '14 USL Pro squad (February)

Photo: OSJ Staff
By Mike Gramajo

With less than a month away for Orlando City SC's season opener at Charleston, head coach Adrian Heath indicated that more additions to the roster will be made in the coming weeks. 

The OSJ will continue to be on the latest track of new players that will be sporting the purple kit. 

Although midfielder Adama Mbengue isn't listed in Orlando City's website as a member of the team, a team source told the OSJ that he will rejoin the squad this week, adding more depth to Heath's midfield, and making a stronger argument in having once again a possessive style team. 

Below is the latest update on the Lions 2014 roster: 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Heath looking to add former MLS players to 2014 squad

By Valencia Voice
By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If you have followed Orlando City SC’s run in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, then you may have noticed how their roster stacks up against the other squads playing in the preseason tournament. 

Not physically, but in size of depth. 

“We’re going to wait and see which players maybe drop out of the MLS over the next few weeks, and they gotta be roster compliant, so we’ll see where we are,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters after Saturday’s 1-1 draw vs. Toronto FC. “We are a little bit thin, we gotta bring one or two players in.”

The Lions active roster for Saturday’s preseason tournament featured 12 players, four of which were on trial; Mason Trafford, Mark Howard and Jordan Cyrus

Although defender Bryan Burke was present, he was missing on the game day roster, mostly because he’s still trying to get on form from a broken leg he suffered last season. While Adama Mbengue will report to training on Monday. 

While Heath’s pursuit for more former MLS players continues, he has told the OSJ most recently that he plans to continue on bringing players up to the pro team from the academy. 

With the 2014 USL Pro regular season bound to kick off in less than a month, Heath hinted that more signings are on its way, which also include the arrival of two players on-loan from Sporting Kansas City (per USL Pro-MLS affiliation). 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Trialist saves Orlando City, scores late equalizer vs. Toronto FC in Disney Classic

Allison Petro / OCSC 

By Mike Gramajo 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Trialist Mark Howard’s 88h minute goal salvaged Orlando City SC, as they went on to play in a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex during day two of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. 

“We take off with our chances, we should of won the game,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters after the game. “I think as the game wore on, the more we got into our rhythm. We’re getting there, we’re getting better.” 

Kyle Bekker gave TFC the early 1-0 lead in the 13th minute, when he scored off a penalty kick after defensive error in Orlando’s back line resulted into a foul. OCSC would find the game-tying goal after midfielder Darwin Ceren’s corner found Howard who managed to poke his head near the goal line for the equalizer. 

Despite the early deficit, the Lions went on to create and miss several chances for an equalizer, outshooting Toronto in the first half 7-4. Austin da Luz, Corey Hertzog and Kevin Molino all had several chances late in the first half, especially a rocket shot from outside the box in the 33rd minute from Molino, which just went over the cross bar. 

Orlando City finished the game outscoring the Reds 18-7, and with 11 of those shots coming in the second half which saw Toronto play midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Dwayne DeRosario. 

With a second consecutive tie, Orlando can still manage to contend for a consolation match and finish second in their pool in a must-win game vs. Columbus Crew on Wednesday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m.. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Orlando City SC and midfielder Jamie Watson part ways, transfers to Minnesota United FC

OSJ Staff Photo
By Mike Gramajo 

Like all things, good things must come to an end. 

Fan favorite Jamie Watson won’t be part of Orlando City SC’s MLS plans, which has resulted into the club transferring the midfielder to Minnesota United FC of the North American Soccer League (NASL) on Thursday. 

“It’s a great opportunity for Jamie,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath said in a statement. “I couldn’t give him the kind of assurance that he is looking for on playing time in the coming season. It’s a sad day but it’s one of those decisions that has been made for all the right reasons. As an organization, we have to make the right decisions for both players and the club.”

Watson and Minnesota aren’t all that new, he last played for the club during their time as the Minnesota Stars FC as a loanee from Orlando City after the 2012 season, which saw guide the Stars to a Soccer Bowl appearance. 

He will also work under Minnesota manager Manny Lagos, who also coached Watson during his time in Minnesota and helped MUFC stay in the middle of the NASL spring table in 2013. 

“This is a very good opportunity for Jamie and we didn’t feel as though we could stand in his way,” added heath. 

Signs of Watson exiting the club appeared on Wednesday night, after he wasn’t named to the game day roster. Other key components to the exit, the amount of depth in the midfield, which are currently occupied by OCSC’s three MLS signings; Yordany Alvarez, Kevin Molino and Darwin Ceren. Adama Mbengue and Austin da Luz also fill up the midfield position. 

Overall, the former Real Salt Lake man finished with 61 appearances while scoring 23 goals for the Purple Kits. 

"The six years I've spent with this organization have been fantastic," Watson said in a press release. "Words can't begin to describe how special the fans, my teammates, the coaches, and the front office have been to me.”


What do you think of this move? Sad to see Watson depart Orlando? What's your favorite moment of him as a Lion? 

Share your thoughts below. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recap: Lions and Union battle in stalemate

Joe Petro / OCSC 
By Mike Gramajo 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Philadelphia Union’s search for their first victory over Orlando City SC still goes on. 

Corey Hertzog gave the Lions the early lead in the 31st minute, after he chipped the ball over Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath, however, Leo Fernandes’ strike in the 73rd minute helped the MLS side to a 1-1 draw at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Wednesday night. 

“We got a long way to go, we turned over the ball too quickly in very dangerous positions, it looks like we haven’t played in a long time,” said OCSC head coach Adrian Heath. “We have a lot of work to do, but I can’t fault them, terrific effort. It was a fair result.

“We’ll get better, I know that. I’m very demanding of my players, so they know what to expect. We had two great chances to win the game, but our goalkeepers came with unbelievable saves, we have tough competition for that No. 1 shirt.” 

Heath opted to start his MLS signings Yordany Alvarez, Darwin Ceren and Kevin Molino in the midfield, which proved to pay dividends in the first half since it created various scoring opportunities. 

The match was also Molino’s first game back after he was out of the country working on a work permit. 

Maurice Edu almost gave the Union the opener in the 25th minute, when his shot toward the top right corner of the net was punched out by Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. 

The Lions were able to find the opening goal in the 31st minute when Luke Boden’s pass found the former Red Bull, as he chipped the ball over MacMath for the 1-0 lead at halftime. 

In the second half, Heath substituted Hertzog out for Dennis Chin, while James O’Connor came in for Yordany Alvarez. 

OCSC could of doubled the lead in the 56th minute when Molino found Austin da Luz in a through pass, leaving the keeper to beat but only failing after the ball hit the post and Chin missing wide on the rebound. 

Despite failing to double the lead, the Union leveled the match in the 73rd minute after second-half substitute Leo Fernandes shot an unassisted dead ball from outside the 18 yard box, which deflected off defender Rob Valentino’s shin for the 1-1 tie. 

Chin would miss a chance to give the Lions the lead again several minutes later, after he beat second-half substitute goalkeeper Andre Blake, but missing as the ball hit off the goal post. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Match Preview | Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union (Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic)

Courtesy of OCSC 

By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City SC will kickoff their run in the 2014 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic when they meet the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports). 

“Over the years, the one thing that we’ve proved to MLS teams is that we’ve always been competitive with them, and we expect to do that again,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath said in a statement. “We are always a little bit behind them (MLS teams) in terms of numbers and training time, but I’m still looking for an improved performance from our previous two matches.”      

After having a successful MLS SuperDraft, the Union are entering Wednesday night’s clash as heavy favorites, lining up stars such as Jack McInerney and USMNT star Maurice Edu, who recently joined the club on-loan from Stoke City. 

Despite having already and up and down 2014 preseason, the Union will also enter their match against Orlando having never beaten the Lions, drawing twice and falling once to Adrian Heath’s men. Both the Union and Lions played to a 1-1 draw in last year’s Disney Pro Soccer Classic opener. 

Darwin Ceren and Yordany Alvarez are once again expected to make the start in the midfield, while Heath is expected to start both forwards Dennis Chin and Corey Hertzog. 

The week long tournament will see Orlando also line up against Toronto FC and Columbus Crew. 

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What do you think the outcome will be? Do you think Orlando can pull an upset? Can the Union show their preseason dominance? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Must-See Video: Dog invades football pitch during Argentine league match

By Mike Gramajo

While we're used to seeing fans invade the soccer field, Sunday's league match between River Plate and Rosario Central had a different type of invader.

Around the 70th minute, the match was put on a standstill after a dog decided to take a walk around the field where the match was taking place.

It did result into the referees adding an additional seven minutes to stoppage time, but just trying to capture the four-legged animal resulted into "Ole's" from the crowd.

Take a look at the video below:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Official Orlando Soccer Journal (OSJ) logo

By OSJ Staff

The time has come to introduce the official logo of the Orlando Soccer Journal (OSJ)

We here at the OSJ have a mission, a mission that stands by delivering the best news on Orlando City SC.

The logo was designed by freelance graphic designer Gustavo Gamez. He's been in the industry for about two years now and some of his work includes, designing logos for community business' such as apartment complexes, media companies lawn care industries and most recently sports.

We have been working on the design for about a month now. Purple is the main color due to the fact that Orlando's soccer scene is painted purple, the shield also indicates the passion for soccer the OSJ has, and the stripes going down to include a broader look into soccer.

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What do you think of the design? Keep following the OSJ on Twitter for the latest news on OCSC.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

VIDEO | Orlando City's Adrian Heath reaction on Chicago Fire defeat

Chicago Fires three vs. Orlando City

Photo by Joe Petro / OCSC 

By Mike Gramajo

BRADENTON, Fla. — Firing up the preseason. 

The Chicago Fire claimed a 3-0 victory over Orlando City SC on Tuesday night, at the IMG Academy Stadium, during a preseason friendly. 

“I thought some of the guys did okay. It’s difficult to play an MLS team that’s two weeks ahead of conditioning,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “We’ll be better, we got a long way to go since we don’t start until the end of March, so we have to just move on.” 

The Fire opened up the scoring in the opening 13 minutes when midfielder Harry Shipp curled in a free-kick from outside the box, beating goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo for the early lead. Forward Daniel Jackson doubled the lead in the 30th minute when a defensive error lead to Jackson to capitalize on the mistake. 

Dennis Chin played the first half as a lone striker, having midfielders Jamie Watson, Yordany Alvarez and Darwin Ceren pull the strings for the former Rollins College player. 

“These games too early for, but we got to make the most of what we have,” said Heath. “We got some pieces still to come and a couple of signings to come before the Disney (Pro Soccer Classic) tournament arrives.” 

In the second half, OCSC looked more alive after giving two early first half goals. Newcomer Corey Hertzog entered to play alongside Dennis Chin, which left Darwin Ceren to play more of a center-attacking midfielder role. 

Former OCSC player Freddie Braun scored the third and final goal in the 79th  minute when his shot went past Lions second-half goalkeeper substitute Carl Woszczyki, which rebounded off the bar, defelcting off Braun’s shin for the goal. 

Kevin Molino did not dress up since he’s still in Trinidad and Tobago working on his Visa, while Bryan Burke appeared on the bench but did not warm up, signaling that he’s still trying to reach form since his season-ending injury in 2013. 

Trialist that stood out was defender RJ Allen, who came in as a second-half substitute. 

Orlando City now pay attention to the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, which kicks off on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. They will open up their run at the DPSC vs. the Philadelphia Union, who were huge winners in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. 

OSJ Live Commentary (Orlando City SC vs. Chicago Fire)

Photo by Brian Kersey

By Mike Gramajo

BRADENTON, Fla. — Orlando City SC kickoff their line of preseason friendlies when they face off against the Chicago Fire at the IMG Academy.

Both sides will meet for the first time since their quarter final U.S. Open Cup encounter, which saw the Fire staple a 5-1 victory over the Lions in June 2013.

Today's match is the first of four preseason matches that headline OCSC's friendlies in February, three of which will take part in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic later this month.

The Fire will feature former University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights goalkeeper Sean Johnson, while also newcomer Benji Joya, who joined the club on-loan from Liga MX side Santos Laguna and has featured in the United States U-20 squad. Lastly, 2013 Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player Mike Magee will more than likely see minutes against the Lions.

With Dennis Chin playing the role of a lone striker, expect many scoring opportunities from the midfield, which has seen an increase in depth during the offseason. 

Follow along with the OSJ (Live commentary below after the jump):

Orlando City add striker to USL Pro squad

Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty Images North America

By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City SC have been lacking a striker, not saying that Dennis Chin isn’t capable of doing the job on his own but depth wise, it was heavily needed. 

After the departures of Jean Alexandre, Long Tan and the improbable Dom Dwyer, the Lions announced on Tuesday that they have acquired striker Corey Hertzog for the 2014 USL Pro season. 

“We were in need of another striker, and Corey is somebody we know all about,” head coach Adrian Heath said in a statement. “He scored a hat-trick against us in 2012 and everyone we spoke to in Vancouver were really complimentary of not only his attitude, but they also think that he has the potential of becoming an MLS player so we’re looking forward to working with him this year.”

Hertzog joins the OCSC after playing most of 2013 for FC Edmonton, while being on-loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps. He finished with a total of three goals in 20 league appearances for both Canadian sides. 

While the final roster for the upcoming USL Pro season has yet to be completed, expect more roster changes to occur. OCSC's partnership with Sporting Kansas City in 2014 will guarantee Orlando two players, two-less than 2013 since Sporting KC also agreed to partner with Oklahoma City Energy for the upcoming season. 

Heath told reporters two weeks ago that despite the third MLS player signing was coming, two or three more players will follow then. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Match Preview | Orlando City SC vs. Chicago Fire (preseason friendly)

Photo by USA Today

By Mike Gramajo 

With only a week of preseason now out of the way, Orlando City SC will kickoff their month of friendlies when they visit the IMG Bradenton Academy to play the Chicago Fire on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. 

“It should be a difficult task, Chicago has been down here for a couple of weeks,” Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath told the OSJ. “We’ll try to give everybody some playing time at some stage during the game.” 

While Orlando is entering Tuesday’s match as their first preseason friendly of 2014, Chicago currently have two preseason games under their belt, defeating most recently DC United last Saturday, 2-0. 

Last time the Lions played the Fire was on June of 2013 during the quarter final stage of the U.S. Open Cup, which saw Chicago claim a large 5-1 victory at Toyota Park. 

OCSC will look to benefit from Tuesday’s matchup, after acquiring their third MLS player Darwin Ceren last week, which is a clear indication that Heath will more than likely rely on his midfielders to create chances towards scoring goals. 

“We’ll probably give him an hour, maybe a bit more but we’ll see how he feels,” said Heath on his most recent player signing. “He said he feels well, we forget he’s in the middle of his season, so he should adjust well.” 

Heath also mentioned that academy players along with trialist’s will see action against the Fire, stating, “One of them is only 16 and two of them are 17-years-old, so I would like to give them some time as well.” 

The Fire saw last year’s head coach Frank Klopas resign after the 2013 MLS season. However, they were quick to bring in former San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop to manage and revamp the squad, which also saw CJ Brown and former US national team star Clint Mathis step into the role of assistant coach.

Perhaps the recent changes in the Chicago coaching staff would change the tempo of Tuesday’s friendly, however, the Englishman told the OSJ that he doesn’t believe the system the Fire have been playing hasn’t changed one bit. 

“I’m not sure if there’ll be a awful lot of difference with the system, obviously new approach, new coach, and there roster is a bit different from last year,” added Heath. “I’m looking forward to the game, they have a couple quality players, I like watching Mike Magee play and the young one they took from the draft.” 

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What are your score predictions for Tuesday's match? Do you think the Fire will claim another victory? Would you like to see Dennis Chin score? Out of the three Orlando MLS signings, who do you want to see the most?

Share your thoughts below. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Orlando City SC sign El Salvador national team captain to MLS contract

By Mike Gramajo

After speculation of Orlando City SC’s third Major League Soccer signing arose last week, the Lions confirmed on Thursday afternoon that they have signed El Salvador national team captain Darwin Ceren to an MLS contract. 

“We’re extremely delighted that Darwin is joining us as our third MLS signing,” Orlando City President Phil Rawlins said in a statement. “We fought very hard to get him here, as several other MLS clubs were also interested.” 

Ceren, 24, joins OCSC after playing for Juventud Independiente of the first division in El Salvador for four-years. The midfielder has wracked up 16 appearances for La Azul y Blanco, playing most recently in the 2013 Gold Cup. 

A total of 83 appearances, with a goal tally of 15 goals with the El Salvador club lead to OCSC coach Adrian Heath to scope out the 24-year-old during his visit to the Central America in December. 

With one more season to go in the USL Pro, Ceren will take part of the Lions’ last season in the lower-division before joining Orlando’s MLS squad alongside other signees Kevin Molino and Yordany Alvarez. 

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What do you think of the signing? Who else do you see joining OCSC’s MLS squad? Would you like to see homegrown talent make Orlando’s MLS squad?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nothing new for first year assistant coach

Ian Fuller (left) was promoted to full-time assistant coach during
the offseason. (Photo: Orlando City SC)

By Mike Gramajo

SANFORD, Fla. — Although playing a familiar role last year, Ian Fuller officially started his role as assistant coach for Orlando City SC on Monday morning during the club’s first preseason training at the Seminole Soccer Complex. 

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while,” Fuller told the OSJ. “I been wanting to coach my whole life and now I’m doing this full time.” 

While the new year brings plenty of changes, the role of assistant coach isn’t new for Fuller. Despite playing a player-coach role for the Lions for three seasons (2011-2013), the Portland, Oregon native worked as an assistant coach for USL Pro rivals, Charleston Battery, in 2010. 

With MLS one year away, Fuller emphasized his commitment to the Lions, stating that he’s happy here and focused on the present.

“Adrian (Heath) has given me this opportunity, and it’s up to me to see if I perform. I know my role within the system, but there are little things that I will see a slight different,” said Fuller. “I’m committed to the club and will be from now until the future. I think one day if that role presents itself, I’ll love to move on but at the moment, I’m more than happy. I got so much more to learn still, and this is just the beginning.” 

While holding the title of second-in-command doesn’t change anything, Fuller did say that Heath will always choose the game day starting XI, but does come to him for his opinion on the selection. 

“For him, it’s the next stage in his career and development, and I have every confidence that he will do well,” said coach Heath. “He started inserting himself into an assistant coach role last year, due to his lack of playing, but it becomes official this year.” 

No other changes were made to the coaching staff, however, James O’Connor was promoted to player-coach early during the offseason. 

Seizing a major opportunity for the future

Yordany Alvarez (left) was seen training on Monday morning (Photo by OSJ Staff)
By Mike Gramajo

SANFORD, Fla. — When the opportunity arises, seize it. 

Sounds cliche, right?

For Yordany Alvarez, that’s something he lives by especially since returning to the place where he got his first opportunity. 

A relationship between a player and coach is something that can blossom into glory. For some, that could be individual success, for others it mostly means winning trophies, a lot of them. 

“I’m really happy to be back in the city. The way the welcomed me back was great, and I have a feeling that once we enter MLS, it’ll be one of the greatest cities in the league,” Alvarez told the OSJ last Saturday during the club’s jersey unveiling. “I give all the credit to Adrian (Heath) for giving me the chance to return to the club. He’s been a very important person to me in my life, he gave me my first opportunity, and I’ll always have that in my heart. 

“I’m really grateful to coach, but also Phil (Rawlins) and the whole team. I come here to work hard, not to relax, but to win a championship, and I want to go to MLS with a good impression.”  

Heath and Alvarez working together isn’t new, both coach and player were part of the Austin Aztex franchise in 2009, which followed by them working together during the Lions’ inaugural season in the USL Pro in 2011. 

“We’ve always had a good relationship from the very beginning,” says Heath. “It’s well documented, we met at a combine in California, and I’ve always been an admirer of him as a player and a person.

“We got a great guy, and a great player. He’s grasped the opportunity with both hands, and I’m proud of that. We got a player that can play really well no matter which league he plays in.” 

With day one of preseason training out of the way, the Cienfuegos, Cuba native will sport the No. 10 on the back of his jersey, signaling that he could or can be an important figure to Orlando’s last run in the USL Pro. 

For Heath, his job as “opportunity giver” continues. Heath says, “I think that’s part of my job, giving young talent the chance to take it to an extra level.” 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rawlins: We're going to kick Miami butt

Photo: Mark Thor / Orlando City SC
By Mike Gramajo

ORLANDO, Fla. — Let the rivalry begin. 

With a major announcement scheduled in Miami on Wednesday, which many believe will be Miami’s return to Major League Soccer, Orlando City SC President Phil Rawlins plans to welcome MLS’ second Florida club with a butt-kicking. 

“We’re going to kick Miami-butt,” Rawlins told fans that attended the clubs 2014 kit launch. 

David Beckham, who is guaranteed owning an MLS club due to his contract with the league, is expected to lead the Miami-based club into MLS alongside Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure. 

Despite already having the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL as their I-4 rivals, Orlando’s rivalry with Miami could result to marquee matchups for the league, when Beckham’s Miami club is expected to join the league in 2016. Port of Miami is the projected location where Miami will build their water-front stadium. 

Heath: We got a big MLS signing coming this week

By Valencia Voice

By Mike Gramajo

ORLANDO, Fla. — Preseason camp kicks off on Monday, and it looks like more players are expected to join the team according to Orlando City SC head coach Adrian Heath. 

The former Everton man told the reporters that a third Major League Soccer signing is expected this week, hinting the Orlando-bound player is a captain of his national team in South America. 

“We got a big signing this week. We got an international player signing, he’s the captain of his national team in South America, we’re really excited about him coming in,” Heath told reporters. “Probably in the middle of the week, along with two other players signing.” 

The contract is expected to be a multi-year deal, which will run from the upcoming USL Pro season to the end of Orlando’s inaugural MLS campaign in 2015. 

The Lions currently have two players with MLS contracts, Kevin Molino and Yordany Alvarez will take part of Orlando’s MLS journey after they agreed to join the club for the final USL Pro before making the jump with Heath, who will head the Lions in 2015. 

While no new reports on Kaka joining OCSC have erupted, Heath did tell the OSJ that a Designated Player for 2015 is still in the top of their agenda.