This year saw Orlando City complete its seventh season of existence. From the early championship years in USL Pro to heights of reaching MLS, the club’s short history has seen legends arise who will forever be remembered. Mount Rushmore, located in Keystone, SD, depicts the faces of four of the most influential presidents in American history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
The term has also been used to describe the most important people in organizations. As a staff, The Mane Land’s writers and editors were discussing and debating this week who should be on OCSC’s version. Today, we look at the Mount Rushmore of Orlando City Soccer Club.
After struggling with attendance, corporate sponsorships, and stadium issues in Austin, TX, Phil Rawlins decided to move to Orlando, where he purchased the USL Pro rights from Steve Donner, creating Orlando City Soccer Club on Oct. 25, 2010. In the following years, he promoted his club, drawing fans from around Central Florida, helping attendances to rise to levels unseen in American third division soccer. Rawlins’ stated goal was to see Orlando City in MLS and playing in a state-of-the-art soccer-specific stadium. With the opening of Orlando City Stadium for the 2017 season, his goal was achieved. While Rawlins is no longer a part of the club’s day-to-day operations, he will always be considered the “father of Orlando City.”
A former striker in England’s first division, Adrian “Inchy” Heath had played for Rawlins’ favorite team, Stoke City FC. Rather than Rawlins seeking out Heath, it was the future coach that convinced Rawlins at an English pub that he was the right man to lead his team. After starting with Rawlins in Austin, Heath led Orlando City to five trophies in four years with an attractive style of soccer that included high scoring and created local stars. The winning team led by Heath won the hearts of locals and gained entry into Major League Soccer. Heath continued as coach through the first year and into the second of MLS before being fired. However, Heath will always have a soft spot in the hearts of fans as the first coach of the club.
Prior to the start of the 2011 USL Pro season, Orlando City signed a young, unknown Trinidadian player named Kevin Molino. The 20-year-old began his first season as a substitute but soon became a regular, starting 14 games in 21 appearances in 2011. Over the next three years, he would win two USL Pro MVPs (2012 and 2014) and set the single-season goal scoring record, with 20 goals in 2014. On Jan. 9, 2014, the club made Molino its first MLS signing. After an injury-shortened 2015 campaign, Molino bounced back in 2016, scoring 11 goals and accumulating eight assists. Molino left Orlando City after the 2016 season as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer with 42, assists with 30, and was second in appearances, with 144.
When Orlando City entered MLS, new owner Flavio Augusto da Silva brought in UEFA Champions League winner, FIFA World Cup winner, and 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká. The superstar brought international attention to the club and was the first Lion to wear the armband in MLS. While the Brazilian’s best years may have been behind him, his impact off the field, from bringing in worldwide media to drawing new fans to the stadium, is immeasurable. On the field, the number 10 appeared 78 times with 71 starts, scored 25 goals, and accumulated 22 assists. He scored the Lions’ first goal as an MLS club on March 8 on a free kick in second-half injury time against New York City FC. However, his most important contribution was announcing Orlando City’s presence in the first division.
Others Under Consideration
The following were also considered for the club’s Mount Rushmore and all had major impacts on the club.
The club’s starting goalkeeper and captain throughout its USL Pro era, Gallardo left having made 96 appearances, 37 clean sheets, recording 231 saves, and a 0.81 goals against average.
Lewis Neal scored the club’s first ever goal in 2011, scored the game-tying goal in the 2011 USL Pro Championship Game, was on the inaugural MLS team, and captained OCB, making a total of 96 appearances with 86 starts during his Orlando City career.
Cyle Larin was Orlando City’s first-ever MLS draft pick in 2015, set the league rookie scoring record with 17 goals, and became the club’s all-time leading scorer in 2017 with 44 career goals. He also scored the first two hat tricks in team history and won the club’s first major postseason award when he earned the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year award.
Dom Dwyer joined Orlando City on loan from Sporting Kansas City in 2013, scoring 15 goals in 13 games and adding four in the 2013 USL Pro Championship Game before returning to the club in 2017 in an MLS-record allocation money deal. So far, he’s added four goals and four assists in 12 games since returning to Orlando.
Kay Rawlins sat down with her then-husband, Phil, in Austin to map out their professional soccer team. She has since been a key member of the front office, a champion of the Orlando Pride, and runs the Orlando City Foundation. She is well-known in Orlando for her charitable endeavors.
Flavio Augusto da Silva
Flavio Augusto da Silva bought into Orlando City in 2013, giving the club the backing it needed to get into MLS in 2015. Without him, the move to Major League Soccer may never have happened. He was also the key figure in driving the private funding of Orlando City Stadium, a building that might not currently be standing without his efforts.
Luke Boden joined Orlando City prior to its inaugural year. He made the jump to MLS with the team before leaving the club following the 2016 season after accumulating a club record 150 appearances, as well as placing second in all-time assists with 25.
Dennis Chin started with the club in 2011 playing sparingly but became a key component of the Lions’ attack, finishing as the club’s all-time leading scorer in the USL Pro era with 32 goals, and made 103 appearances.
Anthony Pulis joined Orlando City in 2012, scoring four goals in 44 appearances, before becoming a coach in 2015. He was the first-ever head coach for Orlando City B, leading the young Lions for their first two years, developing young talent for the first team.
Jamie Watson was a key player for the Lions for their first three seasons, making 69 appearances, scoring 25 goals, and accumulating 14 assists.
This is our list of the people who have made the biggest contributions to the club. Others were discussed, but we felt these were the most prominent of all. Who is on your Orlando City Mount Rushmore? Let us know in the comments below.