Rumors swirled last week at the National Women's Soccer League final that Orlando City would be announced as the newest expansion team to the league at halftime of the game between Kansas City and Seattle. That did not happen.
However, in the days since, even more rumors have surfaced regarding the team name, possible players, and more. Here we will address all of the rumors we have seen and which ones make sense for the club.
Will there be a team?
For the most obvious of the rumors, yes, all signs point to Orlando City getting an NWSL team with this next expansion announcement. It's one of the worst kept secrets in soccer.
What will the team be called?
The NWSL team name is one of the most intriguing discussion points regarding the team. Mostly, we've heard talk of these four potential team names:
Orlando City Lionesses
A few have speculated that Orlando City could take the name Lions and use the feminine term Lionesses as the new team name. It makes sense, but is appearing less and less likely. Most people suggesting this team name were suggesting a few months back before reports brought new team names to light. Also, in personal preference, Lionesses is annoying to say. It doesn't sound like a good team.
Orlando (City) Pride
This appears the most likely name for the NWSL team. The rumor is substantiated by the purchase of the domain name OrlandoPride.com and OrlandoCityPride.com. There is one caveat with this fact, however. The domain name OrlandoCityB.com was purchased by a Phil Rawlins in Orlando, FL.
However, the domain names OrlandoPride.com and OrlandoCityPride.com have a private name and organization set. This doesn't mean, Rawlins didn't purchase those domain names, but rather someone didn't want their identity to be known that they purchased them. It could just be part of the club trying to keep the team name a secret.
For what it's worth, all other domain names featuring rumored team names are available.
Orlando City Lady Lions
This one seems to be the least popular of the rumored team names. Putting the word "Lady" in front of whatever the men's team is called is rightfully becoming less and less popular in the past year, given decisions by college programs to drop the term "Lady" from team names. Ultimately, we wouldn't call them the "Male Lions," so it doesn't make sense to bring in a gender specific team name as an expansion team for the women's team.
This also to be far and away the least popular name on the internet.
Reblog if Lady Lions is literally the worst possible name for the new Orlando NWSL team - caraboo-land: http://t.co/HMVoTgfFWO— Sheilann O' Meara (@SheilannO) October 6, 2015
@SpiritWarrior24 better than Orlando lady lions that just sounds like a high school team— Emily (@kriegsjauregui) October 6, 2015
@GavinEwbank And still pulling for Orlando City Pride or Orlando Pride... please no Lady Lions or Lionesses, way too cliche...— daguru (@daguru9) October 1, 2015
Dear Unnamed Orlando NWSL Club, please do not name your team "Lady Lions" unless you name the men's side "Man Lions." Love, Me— thrace (@thrace) October 5, 2015
Orlando City Roar
This name was a bit of a surprise, as it came out of nowhere, but there is some merit to this one. Given some of the other NWSL team names like Dash, Flash, Reign and Spirit, Roar and Pride seem like two names that fit in really well, because they aren't typical mascots. The NWSL mascots aren't animals or types of people like you see in other sports. Roar is an inanimate object like Dash is, so I think it fits in well with the league.
It also boosts our chances of selling our "Roarlando" shirts on The Mane Land website.
The next most obvious thing Orlando City fans are looking forward to for the NWSL team is which players will fill out the roster. Most of this is total speculation, because we don't know the standards by which the league would make Orlando abide by when setting up a roster. However, we can expect Orlando City to try and make a few splashy signings (a la Kaká and Brek Shea) if allowed to, and then fill out the rest of the roster with younger talent that could be future stars. Players like Darwin Ceren and Cristian Higuita.
Here are some of the top rumored players:
The most obvious choice to build the NWSL team around is USWNT striker Alex Morgan. The Portland Thorns striker is married to Orlando City SC player Servando Carrasco, and has shown up to some games this season while being paraded around the field with club president Phil Rawlins.
It was reported this week, that it was all but a done deal that Morgan and a few others would be in Orlando jerseys once the team is announced.
Being one of the most recognizable faces in women's soccer, she would be a great signing for Orlando to build around from a marketing standpoint. However, whether or not it is a good soccer move, is to be determined. It is not yet known what Orlando would have to give up to get her, and it's doubtful that Orlando would mortgage its future just to get her.
Any time women's soccer stars are mentioned, Hope Solo somehow manages to have her name thrown into the rumor mill for some reason. Next to Morgan and maybe Abby Wambach, she is one of the most recognizable women's soccer stars in America. But Solo loves Seattle, and there is another goalkeeper that makes more sense for Orlando City to go after.
Of course. Why wouldn't the wife of the No. 1 talked about non-Orlando City player be rumored to come to Orlando?Leroux's husband Dom Dwyer is a fan favorite of Orlando City fans, and those fans want Orlando City to do whatever it takes to get him back here. That includes getting Leroux. It just adds to the story line that Leroux and Morgan are great friends. Leroux was a disappointment at the World Cup, but is a good player to build around if Orlando City can get her here.
It'll just be a bonus if she helps bring Dwyer back, and Morgan over.
Harris is probably the best fit for Orlando City, given that she might be a relatively inexpensive addition. Harris is a lesser known star than the likes of Leroux, Solo and Morgan. But as Solo's backup on the USWNT, she is a more than capable keeper.
In addition, Harris is a local product. She played at Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, FL. After traveling the world in her career, the 29-year-old may want to come back home to drive to do something special with the expansion team.
One of the names nobody is talking about, but maybe should be. Marta is one of the greatest women's soccer players of all time, and has been a staple for the Brazilian national squad in recent years. Given that she is Brazilian makes her an obvious option for owner Flavio Augusto da Silva to go after, since everyone knows his desire to acquire Brazilian players.
Teamed with Kaká, the addition of Marta could form a superstar tandem and make Orlando City the club for Brazilian fans to root for.
Along with a couple of these star players, we should expect Orlando City to tap into the hotbed of talent in Florida to fill out its roster and help it build to the future.
One of the biggest unknowns for an Orlando City women's team is where they will play. There are three major options for Orlando City's women's team to call home. Let's take a look at each.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports location at Disney World is one potential place for the new Orlando City women's team to play. Given that Disney is an Orlando City sponsor, we can assume they would be given access to the park, but given the lofty expectations the club would set for itself, I'm not sure the main stadium at the Wide World of Sports complex would have enough seating for Orlando City to decide that it is the best option.
Playing in the Citrus Bowl gives the women the same problem the men had this season. The turf is tough on knees and most players don't like playing on it. Plus, given the 60,000 seat capacity the stadium is likely to look empty most games. The Citrus Bowl is probably most likely to be a placeholder stadium if anything.
The new 25,000 downtown stadium is likely the best possible situation for the club to use a home -- once it is built, of course. It's a good size, and it promotes a concept of unity between the men's and women's clubs that will bode well for building the Orlando City brand. The new downtown stadium should be a one-stop shop for Orlando soccer.
Surely, there will be plenty of more rumors coming to light regarding the possibility of a NWSL team in Orlando. Keep an eye and drop us a comment with what you're hearing or hoping Orlando City will do.