clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Orlando Sharks: Orlando's First Indoor Soccer Team

Before Orlando City came along in 2011, there was a little known team playing in the old Amway Arena in the Major Indoor Soccer League, known as the Orlando Sharks.

The history of soccer in the city of Orlando is well documented. There's the original Orlando Lions in the late 80s, the World Cup games back in 1994, the Orlando Sundogs in 1997, and, of course, Orlando City in 2011, but no one seems to have ever heard of the only indoor soccer club to make Orlando its home.

Back in 2007, Sham Maharaj, president of the Buena Vista Corporation, invested in the Major Indoor Soccer League to bring a team to Orlando. In February of that year, both Maharaj and MISL commissioner Steve Ryan introduced the eighth team to join the MISL as the Orlando Sharks.

It was announced that Orlando would play 15 of its 30 games at home in the old Amway Arena, where the Orlando Magic played prior to the new Amway Center. Each home game would feature a theme night, as shown by the pamphlet that they distributed before the season.

Theme

Tickets for these games started at $15 for their version of the supporters section, which they dubbed "The Cove." General admission was $22 and the price increased all the way up to $225 for seats right near the players' bench.

Going into their inaugural season, the Sharks were able to get 1410 AM to broadcast all of their games, but only in Spanish. Meanwhile, the MISL had a deal with FOX Soccer, where a game of the week was featured, so each team would appear on television a few times.

The roster was made up of unprotected players, walk-on players and draftees from the MISL Collegiate Amateur Draft. Everything was building up for a great inaugural season for the new team. Then the season began.

On Oct. 26, 2007, Orlando hosted the New Jersey Ironmen, the other expansion team to join the league that year. Only a few hundred people came out to witness the Sharks get beaten fairly handily, 7-4, by New Jersey. This loss began the worst losing streak of MISL history, as the Orlando team dropped its first 16 games of the season.

The Sharks' first win didn't come until almost four months into the season, when they beat the California Cougars, 16-13. After the first win in franchise history, the team won its second in a row, beating the Philadelphia KiXX.

Out of the next 12 games, Orlando was only able to win two more games, both at home. This brought the first season's record to an abysmal 4-26, the third worst record by an MISL franchise in history. The Sharks also had a winless away record of 0-15, another ugly stat line for the team's first season.

As expected, with the terrible performance of the team, the attendance numbers also floundered. The Sharks were the worst attended team in the MISL, averaging only 1,789 fans per game.

After the season ended, the league ceased operations, apparently "so that its legal structure could be altered." Due to having no league to play in, the Sharks waited, and, six months after the season ended, the team announced it would be joining a new league, the National Indoor Soccer League, in the fall of 2008.

However, the team decided to temporarily cease operations due to conflicts with the city government and the usage of Amway Arena. After team president Rich Bradley said in a statement that the team would be back for the 2009-2010 season, the team never re-materialized and that was it for the Orlando Sharks.

Looking back on the disaster indoor soccer was in Orlando, it's amazing how far the city has come with the support of the Lions. Before I leave you, here is the only video evidence that the Orlando Sharks ever won a game.