Orlando City's has announced it has officially entered into an affiliation with Clube Atlético Paranaense, giving the Lions a third international club partnership. Atlético Paranaense plays in Brazil's Serie A, the country's top flight. Founded in 1924, the club is also home to world class training facilities and one of Brazil's top academies. Atlético Paranaense won the Brasileiro Serie A Championship in 2001, along with 23 Campeonato Paranaense regional championships.
This technical partnership will include friendly matches in Orlando in 2017, and another during the 2018 preseason in Curitiba, Brazil. Today's announcement expands on Orlando City's previous existing partnerships with Portuguese side S.L. Benfica and English Premier League club Stoke City FC. This new partnership expands Orlando City’s international connections, particularly in South America.
"We are proud of partnering with Atlético Paranaense, a club with more than 90 years of history," Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins said in a club press release. "In addition to their success on the pitch, they possess a vast knowledge on the process of developing a successful academy and running a top-notch training facility.
Aside from the two friendlies, it remains to be seen what exactly this will mean for Orlando City, moving forward. The Lions were able to secure defender Rafael Ramos and midfielder Estrela -- who has since moved on -- through their partnership with Benfica. So far, the biggest part of the Stoke City partnership was the July friendly in Melbourne, won by the Potters, 2-1.
But Orlando City has now strengthened its ties with Brazil yet again, and there is no doubt that nation is a fertile ground for developing world class soccer talent. Hopefully some of that will find its way to the City Beautiful through this partnership.