The National Women’s Soccer League has announced that the Orlando Pride will become its 10th club and second expansion team. The Pride will be owned and operated by Orlando City SC of Major League Soccer and will begin play at the start of the 2016 NWSL season.
“We are very excited to welcome the Orlando Pride as the second expansion club in the history of the National Women’s Soccer League,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. “Orlando is a remarkable organization with an authentic club culture and a community that will help us continue to grow the league and provide more opportunities for female soccer players at the highest level. As we continue to build the overall fan base, we are thrilled to have a club in the Southeast to provide fans in the region with the opportunity to see and interact with our amazing players. We have no doubt Orlando will be a tremendous addition to the NWSL.”
In addition, Orlando named former head coach of the Australian and U.S. Women’s National Teams, Tom Sermanni, as head coach. “The name ‘Orlando Pride’ captures how we all feel about the city of Orlando, as well as firmly tying into the Lions family,” said Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “The time is right for women’s professional soccer here in Central Florida, and we are excited to launch this new team for 2016. We want to win championships and build one of the best women’s teams in world soccer. We have taken a strong first step in this direction by naming Tom Sermanni as head coach of the Pride. Tom brings world-class experience to our city, combined with the expertise to build a winning franchise. This is a thrilling time for our organization, our partners and for fans in the ‘Soccer Capital of the South.’”
Orlando will join the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash in the NWSL. The Pride will play in the Orlando Citrus Bowl for the start of the 2016 season, eventually transitioning to the MLS club’s new downtown stadium when construction is completed.