Each country has its big soccer clubs that draw the biggest names, have the largest international presence, and win the most trophies. In MLS, the LA Galaxy has been the biggest club for some time. But expansion club Orlando City SC is looking to become a big club, not just in Major League Soccer, but on the world’s stage.
One way to tell big clubs is by big names. The biggest clubs in the world have the world’s biggest stars and MLS is no different. While the young league isn’t at the level yet where they can bring in a Ronaldo or Messi, they can bring in European stars who are in the latter stages of their career. This off-season, Orlando City brought in its first designated player and it's one of the biggest stars in the world, Kaka. Kaka has won almost every individual and team award in both the domestic and international game. In 2015, he will be the face of the Lions.
A major aspect of a big club is an international fan base. Each summer, these teams travel to other continents to visit their fans and extend their brand. Orlando City has been very vocal about growing its brand internationally and is getting on it right away.
With an ownership group led by a Brazilian and an Englishman, those two countries have stood out as targets. Last year the club streamed its final USL Pro season on YouTube with Portuguese commentators to appeal to Brazilians and this year the Lions are visiting those fans with a three-match preseason tour in an attempt to grow the brand. This is a bold statement for a club in a league that doesn't travel abroad for preseason tours very often.
The most important way a club grows to be considered a big club is by winning trophies. While the Galaxy has always been one of MLS’s bigger clubs, there’s no doubt their recent success has helped their brand grow stronger. Orlando City is building a team expected to compete immediately, something that has the league taking notice.
With five trophies in four years in USL Pro, Orlando City has proven its commitment to winning and will continue to hunt trophies in MLS. This off-season, the club has brought in a mix of MLS veterans with young players possessing lots of potential. The club’s plan is to win now while investing in the future.
MLS certainly doesn’t have clubs as big as those in the top European leagues but it does have its own big clubs. Right now, the two biggest of those clubs are the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders. Expansion club Orlando City is trying to break into that group and be considered a big club even by world standards. To do that, they’ve brought in a big international name, gone abroad to expand their brand, and made winning immediately a priority.
While it may take a while, Orlando City is taking the right steps to become a big club in the world of soccer.