One of the teams competing to win the Major League Soccer (MLS) trophy is Orlando City Soccer Club. The American professional soccer club is based in Orlando, Florida.
The club competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in MLS and started playing in 2015 as the 21st franchise in MLS, succeeding the USL Pro team of the same name.
In doing so they became the first MLS team in Florida since Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny both folded following the 2001 season. The team plays at Exploria Stadium in Downtown Orlando. The stadium has a capacity of 25,500 seats.
Orlando City was founded in November 19, 2013 as the league’s twenty-first franchise. The team’s new logo was unveiled in May 2014 and the team signed their first player to an MLS contract, former Brazil international Kaká, a month later. Kaká, who also became the team’s first Designated Player after his release from A.C. Milan, was immediately loaned to São Paulo until the start of the MLS season.
In the same month, Orlando City announced a partnership with Benfica. As part of that partnership, Orlando City later signed two players from Benfica U19s – Estrela and Rafael Ramos – to MLS contracts on August 7, 2014.
On November 21, 2014, head coach Adrian Heath signed a contract extension committing him to the club until the end of the 2017 MLS season. As an expansion team, Orlando had first pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and used it to selection Canadian forward Cyle Larin.
The team hosted their first MLS game at the Citrus Bowl on March 8, 2015, against fellow expansion team New York City FC, in front of a crowd of 62,510. Kaká scored the club’s first goal in stoppage time to earn a 1–1 draw. In the following game, they defeated Houston Dynamo 1–0 on the road to earn their first victory.
On March 21, Orlando conceded a late stoppage-time goal to Octavio Rivero of Vancouver Whitecaps for their first defeat. In their inaugural season, Orlando City finished 7th in the Eastern Conference and 14th in the overall standings, falling short of the playoffs by one point.
Midway through the 2016 season, following disappointing results and performance of the team, long time head coach Adrian Heath was fired in July 2016. He was replaced by Jason Kreis. However, the Lions ended the season missing the playoffs once again.
In 2017, the Lions moved to the purpose-built Orlando City Stadium. With the team again struggling, they attempted to improve during the summer transfer window by acquiring Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer who had played for Orlando City’s USL Pro team on-loan in 2013, notably scoring four goals in the USL Pro Championship Final.
The club traded incentives totaling to $1.6 million, a record trade between two MLS clubs at the time. The team again failed to reach the postseason. Kaká announced that he would not return for Orlando City and soon after confirmed his retirement.
The highest-paid player in Orlando City and the 12th highest-paid player in MLS, making $2,448,250 in total compensation is Portuguese internation Lius Nani. The forward earns $2,333,333 a as base salary. Nani was acquired in February 2019 on a free transfer from Sporting CP and signed a three-year deal as a designated player.
Orlando City SC player salaries for 2019, as released by the MLS Players Union, as of June 1, 2019.