Bold new year for Orlando City

Bold+new+year+for+Orlando+City

Mike Gramajo / Valencia Voice

Rob Valentino (left) Dennis Chin (middle) and Ian Fuller (right) sporting Orlando City's new 2013 kits.

ORLANDO — Fans of the Orlando City Soccer Club gathered at the Harry Buffalo restaurant in downtown Orlando on Tuesday, Dec. 12, for the team’s second annual Fan Forum.

Fans of the club were given an opportunity to hang out with players from the team, as well with head coach Adrian Heath and club owner Phil Rawlins.

“It’s awesome because it’s a long off season,” said Orlando City forward Jamie Watson on the Fan Forum. “For me this is my favorite part of it. Without the fan support that we have, it’s just us playing a game in the park on Saturday afternoon.”

Orlando City owner Phil Rawlins, opened up the event with a slide show for the fans showcasing last year’s achievements, as well as the clubs plans for the upcoming year.

During his presentation, Rawlins discussed the many of the organization’s accomplishments from the past year, including winning the USL PRO regular season title with a record of 17-6-1 before losing in the second round of playoffs to the Wilmington Hammerheads.

“We had such a good year, and then our one bad performance cost us the season,” said Watson on the end of the season. “It makes you basically train more, train harder to not have to feel that way again, because that feeling was awful.”

Rawlins also talked about the various league records the club set in 2012. Some of the records broken by Orlando City in the past year were wins in a season, points total, goals scored, and goals conceded.

After speaking about the team’s on-field performance, Rawlins shifted gears and talked about the fans. Orlando City had the highest consistent attendance outside of Major League Soccer with an average of 6,968 fans per game.

Once Rawlins had acknowledged the club’s accomplishments in the past year, he turned towards the future. He touched on what 2013 will bring for to club, including a balanced schedule, the Disney Pro Classic and the highly anticipated I-4 Derby with cross state rivals the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Rawlins also announced a friendly with Italian club team AS Roma on Jan. 2 at Rollins College.

“These are guys that we watch on TV every week,” said Watson about playing AS Roma. “Now it’s like, wait a minute we get to play against them.”

Watson has ties to AS Roma midfielder Michael Bradley, who also plays for the U.S. men’s national team. Bradley and Watson grew up playing together.

Before opening the floor to questions from the fans, Rawlins gave the crowd at the Harry Buffalo what they wanted with an update on Orlando City moving to MLS and building a new stadium.

Rawlins spoke about how he was working with state, county and local politicians to get a stadium deal done by the summer. Rawlins still believes Orlando City can be in the MLS by 2015, with the help of a new 20,00 seat soccer specific stadium.

The crowd erupted when Rawlins unveiled the first artist rendering of what a downtown stadium could look like.

“I think it would certainly be the fans prime location,” said Rawlins of a downtown stadium. “What we’ve got to do is make sure that any location we choose works for the MLS.”

People within Orlando City did stress that the rendering was in no way official.

Following his presentation, Rawlins introduced Orlando City manager Adrian Heath for a question and answer segment with fans. Heath was the 2012 USL PRO coach of the year, after leading the club to its best record since joining the USL PRO.

The Fan Forum ended the unveiling of the new 2013 kit for Orlando City. Players Dennis Chin, Ian Fuller and Rob Valentino modeled the three different uniforms for the fans. Chin sported the home purple kit, while Fuller wore the alternate red kit, and Valentino wore the away whites.

“I like that we have three different colors,” said Watson. “Nobody in this league has that.”

The club’s 2013 kits were designed by Lotto, after their contract with Umbro ran out following the 2012 season.