Orlando City has announced that former first team midfielder Lewis Neal will return to the club in 2016 in an "extended role."
The 2015 Clubman of the Year will join Orlando City B, the club's USL team playing in Melbourne, as a veteran leader to help groom City's young players. Neal will also become a coach in the academy and assume a broadcast role for the club's television projects.
"We have been talking with Lewis for several weeks about his continuing role with the Orlando City family and are delighted that he has chosen to stay with Orlando and further his career here," Founder and President Phil Rawlins stated in a club press release. "Dating back to our time together at Stoke City, Lewis has always been a model professional. His approach and dedication to the game will serve as a fantastic example for our up and coming young players."
Neal initially joined Orlando City for the 2011 season where he scored the club's first goal in a preseason friendly against the Philadelphia Union and helped the Lions to the double of a USL Pro regular season championship and a USL Pro championship game win over the Harrisburg City Islanders. Neal famously scored an equalizing goal in extra time of that championship game to send the final to penalties.
Following his successful 2011 campaign, Neal joined D.C. United of MLS where he played a key role before returning to Orlando for the club's 2015 inaugural MLS season through the Expansion Draft.
In his two years as a Lion, Neal competed in 45 league matches scoring six goals and competed in two U.S. Open Cup matches scoring one goal.