Our City is a weekly column focused on my perspective of Orlando City as a supporter. I would love to incorporate your ideas and stories, if you have something to add or a story idea please connect by commenting here or on Twitter: @kevinmercer225
First of all, welcome to Orlando! We hope you know, as both a city and a group of supporters, we are elated that a player of your caliber has signed on for our first season in Major League Soccer. As you are starting training camp with Orlando City SC in preparation for your first season in MLS, I thought some introductions were in order.
We know a lot about you, of course. The established soccer fans among us remember your play for AC Milan and Real Madrid and your performances for your national team, Brazil. Some of Orlando, my friends and fellows citizens who are finding a new interest in the game due to the elevation of Orlando City to MLS, are becoming acquainted with you now. Your flashing smile, work ethic, winning attitude, and humility will all go over well among the people here. You are everything we like in a sports star, to be honest. Of all the top tier potential designated players in the world, you might even be the perfect fit.
It is also safe to say Orlando has never seen a sports star of your caliber. If we use the Twitter follower gauge, your almost 22 million followers are as many as a combined list of all our former and current sports personalities combined.
Theoretically, you are more famous than former Orlando Magic players Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway, and current Magic star, Victor Oladipo, golf great Tiger Woods, NFL and UCF football players Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, Asante Samuel, and Brandon Marshall combined. (For the record, they have around 20 million Twitter followers, collectively, I ran out of Orlando sports figures to add).
For a club and a city looking for an international audience, you are the right face of the franchise. This is something you said during your Media Day press conference that you were comfortable with doing for the next few years. You hesitated when it came to retiring here. This probably had much to do with you being a veteran and knowing sports are a funny business, but the Orlando sports fan in me got a little nervous.
See, you aren't the first guy to sit behind a table at a preseason press conference with a million dollar smile and talk about winning this city a championship. We've had some of the world's best and most recognized basketball stars play for our Orlando Magic, only to bolt for the door and win championships elsewhere. You will forgive us if we have some abandonment issues.
Like any new relationship, we have to give you a chance though. We can't hold you accountable for those that have come before you. Trust me, a couple of your beautiful runs through the midfield and a big win or two and you will have us committed to you.
One thing I can say for the Orlando City supporters, we are a loyal bunch and we will back you all the way. I hope you stay and win some trophies. As your boss, Phil Rawlins, said yesterday in his press conference, this is a "hip" and up-and-coming city. We are also a city who has never won a top level championship.
While we've had a winning tradition in the lower leagues, it is hard to compare us to the winning traditions of your former clubs, São Paulo FC, AC Milan, and Real Madrid. I'd counter that there you were a part of a long history, here you can make history.
One more thing: I want to take some pressure off you. The national media is putting the job of selling MLS and soccer to America on you. Don't worry about that. Your fellow countryman, Pelé, and England's David Beckham did a fine job of raising the profile of the game in the States. You are here because they did the hard work for you. All you have to do is sell it to Orlando.
Trust me, this city is eager for a sports hero we can believe in.
Orlando City Season Ticket Holder