Sunday, March 30, 2014

Boden makes case for soccer growth in Central Florida and rest of nation

Photo: Allison Petro / OCSC 
By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Although Orlando City SC failed to earn a victory during their USL Pro home-opener vs. the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, which ended in a 1-1 draw last Saturday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, defender Luke Boden show cased what soccer in America has the potential of doing. 

The former Sheffield Wednesday man scored the equalizer for Orlando, after trailing 1-0 early in the second half, however, his stunning performance not only raised questions, but also gave an idea of what Orlando City’s style of play can bring to the table in terms of high standard soccer. 

“I think the culture here is great,” Boden told reporters after the draw vs. Pittsburgh. “People have come over and trained with us from England, and after the training session they say, ‘I wasn’t expecting that’ because people have the perception of, ‘this is America, America is not like that’ that’s not the case. 

“You see the kids now and you ask what’s your favorite sport, and they’ll say, ‘soccer, soccer, soccer’ and it’s massive already, and it’s only gonna grow. When we do possession and things like that, and when you go see MLS games the standard is way up there.”

If it’s not attendance figures, it’s Orlando City’s possessive style of play that has received plenty of praise from managers in MLS to those that guide clubs in the Barclays Premier League in England. 

“The club has all the right things to be in MLS,” said then-Stoke City manager Tony Pulis after the Orlando’s 1-0 friendly defeat to the Potters in 2012. 

With Major League Soccer making a return to Florida in the upcoming years, it’s only evident to say that the demographics have shifted not only across the nation, but in Florida as well. 

Orlando City is expected to make the jump to MLS in 2015, which will follow with Miami once David Beckham and his ownership group are granted access to property in Port of Miami for a privately-funded stadium. The goal for Miami’s entrance has been set for 2016 or 2017. 

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