ORLANDO, Fla. - The Central Florida Sports Commission (CFSC) has announced that Soccer Spring Training will be coming to Central Florida. Six Major League Soccer (MLS) teams will converge on Central Florida to take part in three weeks of training camp and competition, culminating with the annual Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“Soccer Spring Training will be a tremendous asset for Central Florida that will drive significant economic impact and exposure for our region” said John Bisignano, president of the Central Florida Sports Commission. “We look forward to working with Major League Soccer teams to integrate them into the Central Florida community.”
The invited teams will train at host communities throughout Central Florida, with the goal of growing the sport of soccer and sports tourism throughout the region, and developing the area as a destination for training and competition for professional soccer clubs.
“Major League Soccer is grateful to the State of Florida and the communities of Central Florida for inviting our clubs to conduct preseason training and games in the Sunshine State,” said MLS Executive Vice President Nelson Rodriguez. “MLS preseason provides fans a great opportunity to see our players up close, watch how they prepare, observe the integration of new talent and enjoy an intimate matchday experience. Many people in Florida regularly watch MLS games on national TV, so this is a means of thanking them for that support.”
The first teams announced to be participating in Soccer Spring Training are Sporting Kansas City, the current Eastern Conference leader, and four-time MLS Cup champions D.C. United, also in playoff position with three games remaining in the regular season. Additional participating MLS teams will be announced in the near future.
Sporting Kansas City will make ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex its official preseason training home. Sporting are enjoying the second year of a transformation that included a rebranding and the opening of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, an exquisite venue that provides one of the best fan experiences in North American sports. Sporting has the best defense in MLS this season, allowing less than one goal per game, while U.S. national team midfielder Graham Zusi, a Longwood, Florida native, orchestrates the attack with a League-leading 14 assists. Sporting Kansas City are again atop the East in 2012 and will represent Major League Soccer in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League as winners of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
"I think that the pre-season environment in Florida and the collection of teams that we are playing right before starting League play is a tremendous build-up to the first game of our season," Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said. "With an excellent tournament and great facilities in Florida, it was important to us to find that type of environment in order to properly get ready for our first game."
D.C. United will be heading to Seminole County to train at Sylvan Lake Park. Headquartered in Washington, DC and playing home matches at RFK Stadium, D.C. United is the most successful professional soccer organization in the history of the United States. United is four-time MLS Cup champions (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004) and winners of the 1996 and 2008 U.S. Open Cup, the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the 1998 InterAmerican Cup and the 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2007 MLS Supporters' Shield – awarded to the team with the best regular season record.
“We are very excited to be a part of Soccer Spring Training in Orlando as we prepare for the 2013 season,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “Our time in Orlando will serve as the team’s final tune-up for the new season and we hope our supporters will consider joining us in sunny Florida as we all get ready to kickoff another campaign.”
“Seminole County is thrilled about Soccer Spring Training and the opportunity to have such a successful club as D.C. United training here,” said Brenda Carey, Chairman of the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners. “We have first class facilities in Seminole County and look forward to insuring a wonderful experience for the team and their fans.”
Fans from each of the MLS team markets, as well as soccer fans from around the world, are encouraged to join us in beautiful Central Florida to watch the teams train and compete while enjoying all of the world class attractions and experiences Orlando has to offer. Travel packages are available that include lodging, Disney Pro Soccer Classic game tickets, attraction tickets and exclusive VIP experiences. Additionally, Soccer Spring Training will include a number of events aimed at increasing excitement for soccer in Central Florida, including a College Combine, Professional Trials and youth soccer tournaments.
The Disney Pro Soccer Classic returns to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on February 9, 2013 with the tournament culminating in the Championship game on February 23. The tournament offers the opportunity for teams to play against high-level competition in preparation for the 2013 regular season.
For more information about Central Florida Soccer Spring Training and to book your travel package, please visit www.SoccerSpringTraining.com.
About CFSC: The Central Florida Sports Commission strategically solicits, creates and supports marquee sports-related events and businesses that enhance our community’s economy. The Sports Commission represents the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia, as well as the City of Orlando. The Sports Commission also produces sports-related programs for the residents of Central Florida including the Celebrity Mascot Games, the SPORTYS, Breakfast of Champions and the Daytona Beach Half Marathon. For more information, please visit www.centralfloridasports.org.