2015

New soccer-specific stadium plans fire up Orlando City SC faithful

( – The following is a story I wrote for the June 15, 2015 edition of Lions Roar, the gameday magazine of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club, touching on the excitement surrounding new plans for a soccer-specific stadium – )

There has been plenty of excitement to go around locally throughout the first three months of the Major League Soccer season. But not even wins, losses or draws have sparked such passion from Orlando City SC supporters as that of the status of a new soccer stadium.

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No matter the forum, there remains a lingering sense of anticipation and excitement renewed each time an update is provided on the Orlando City Soccer Club’s new venue.

Club officials made quite the splash at a press conference on May 29 by proclaiming the development of a soccer-specific stadium in Orlando’s Parramore area ready for liftoff.

That the club will privately fund its new stadium not only assures fans the project will indeed get off the ground, but also serves as a reminder of just how close the dream is to becoming reality.

This much is certain, no matter the details from here on out, there will be no more worrying about the specifics for the Orlando City faithful.

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MLS fans flocking to Citrus Bowl to catch Orlando City Soccer Club

( The following is a story I wrote for the May 30, 2015 edition of Lions Roar, the gameday magazine of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club, exploring the continued support of a legion of loyal soccer fans throughout Central Florida )

You need only to cruise the pavement of Central Florida and tally the number of OCSC magnets adorning vehicles for proof. Or stroll the sidewalks of downtown Orlando wearing the club’s trademark purple and keep tabs on the responses you receive.

It’s as though lifelong relationships are being made by the thousands in 2015.

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Whether it’s the club’s work in the community or the inviting presence of its leaders around town, purple pride is spreading throughout the state at an uncontainable rate.

“I remember when we first started going to games and there was maybe a couple thousand people in the stands,” said Randy Badilo, a season ticket holder in section 110 who has supported the club since its inception. “Then at the start of this year we sell out the entire Citrus Bowl for the first game, and it’s been incredible ever since.”

Boosted by home crowds of 62,510 in the club’s MLS debut against New York City FC on March 8 and 40,122 against the defending champion LA Galaxy a little more than two months later, Orlando City is averaging 37,446 fans at home this season compared to an average of just over 20,000 for the league as a whole.

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Four teams remain in Stanley Cup Playoffs and none are from Canada

I hardly have time to care too much about the National Hockey League. There’s just too many other things going on in the world of sports to consume my attention.

But now we’re down to the final four teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s reason enough to start paying attention, right?

What’s interesting about the upcoming matchups this weekend is that there’s no hard feelings stemming from previous postseason clashes to help get the excitement brewing. Instead we’ve got one team in the mist of a marginally lengthy Stanley Cup drought and, in comparison, three others still cleaning up confetti from recent triumphs.

On Saturday it’s the top-seeded New York Rangers and the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning meeting in the Eastern Conference. Sunday it’ll be the No. 1 Anaheim Ducks hosting the No. 3 Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference.

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Kenosha, Wis. is most interesting story in 1st round of NFL Draft

Something unique took place in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday that hasn’t happened since 1997.

When Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes was selected No. 11 overall by the Minnesota Vikings and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon was taken No. 15 by the San Diego Chargers, it marked just the fifth time since 1990 that high school teammates were drafted together in the opening round.

Waynes and Gordon starred on opposite sides of the ball at Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wis., home of Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former NBA All Star Nick Van Exel.

(Click here for a video feature on Waynes and Gordon via Big Ten Network)

The Big Ten rivals are the first set of high school teammates to earn such a distinction since Texas cornerback Bryant Westbrook was drafted No. 5 overall by the Detroit Lions and Nebraska cornerback Michael Booker went No. 11 overall to the Atlanta Falcons. Westbrook and Booker played together at El Camino High School in Oceanside, Calif.

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Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Talking baseball & football hall of fames

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio each were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week despite the arrogance of the very people that have covered the sport over the years. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also announced the 15 finalists for its Class of 2015, which will be finalized on Jan. 31.

( – Click to listen to J.C. and Chris talk about baseball & football halls of fame – )

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City coach offers MLS Cup prediction and forecast on 2015 roster

The MLS Cup goes down this Sunday at 3 p.m. in Los Angeles between the Galaxy and New England Revolution. There’s plenty of star power involved in the matchup, led by Landon Donovan, perhaps the greatest American soccer player of all time, playing in his final professional game.

On Monday Major League Soccer teams will begin submitting their list of unprotected players for the upcoming Expansion Draft as the Orlando City Soccer Club and New York City FC are scheduled to pick through those leftovers on Wednesday.

I spoke with Orlando City coach Adrian Heath earlier this week about his impression of the MLS postseason, and what he’s been doing as of late to prepare for the upcoming MLS drafts and signing periods for the Lions.

(– Click here for J.C.’s story on Adrian Heath’s thoughts on MLS Cup for MLSSoccer.com –)

(– Click here for J.C.’s story on Heath scouting talent for 2015 roster for MLSSoccer.com –)

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club trades for Houston Dynamo goalie Tally Hall

The Orlando City Soccer Club is a long way away from being ready for the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season. Finding MLS experience to fill out the roster is a top priority this offseason as the Lions make a move from the minor leagues to the top division in North America.

Last week I caught up with OCSC general manager Paul McDonough and president Phil Rawlins about the pending acquisition of Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who started in back-to-back MLS Cup matches in 2011 and 2012.

(– Click here to read J.C.’s story on Tally Hall coming to Orlando for MLSSoccer.com –)

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club embraces past with new Major League Soccer look

The Orlando City Soccer Club unveiled a new kit for the 2015 Major League Soccer season Wednesday. The club left no stone unturned when designing the new look, which honors its four minor league seasons with several different features. Check out the details in the photo below and marvel at its uniqueness, in all its purple glory.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story for Major League Soccer about new look and season tickets – )

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Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club preps for Major League Soccer Expansion Draft

There’s so much to be done before the Orlando City Soccer Club even steps foot on the pitch as a Major League Soccer participant at the start of the 2015 season. Among the many obstacles to navigate is the MLS Expansion Draft on Dec. 10 as Orlando City joins New York City FC in each selecting 10 players from those made available by current clubs.

( – Click here to read J.C.s story for MLSSoccer.com about OCSC preparing for Expansion Draft – )

Orlando City currently has just 10 players under contract for 2015 after defender Luke Boden and midfielder Harrison Heath finalized contracts with the club on Monday. Boden has spent the past four seasons with the Lions while Heath joined Orlando City near the end of the 2014 USL PRO season.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story for MLSSoccer.com about Boden and Heath signing contracts – )

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club breaks ground at site of new soccer stadium

The Orlando City Soccer Club and its supporters continue to ride the momentum of minor league championships toward Major League Soccer, right into the heart of one of the poorest neighborhoods in town.

On Thursday thousands of fans gathered in downtown Orlando and marched down Church Street to the site of the new soccer-specific stadium in Parramore for a ceremonial groundbreaking. The club pulled out every bell and whistle to ensure the occasion went off in a larger-than-life manner, and it worked with what appeared to be ease.

Orlando City is slated to open its new stadium in 2016. They’ll open their first season in MLS at the Florida Citrus Bowl in March 2015.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story on the groundbreaking for Major League Soccer – )

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Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Dennis Chin Reflects on Time with Orlando City Soccer Club

On Saturday Oviedo High School, Rollins College and Orlando City Soccer Club product Dennis Chin opened up on AM 740 The Game about OCSC’s early exit from the playoffs and shared his thoughts on being one of many players recently released as the club began preparations for Major League Soccer.

Chin said that although everyone was aware of the upcoming changes to be made at the start of the year, some players took the news harder than others at the end of the season. When I asked if the uncertainty surrounding player’s positions on the MLS roster became a distraction late in the season, Chin replied “I’m pretty sure it was for some.”

( – Click here to listen to J.C. interview Orlando City Soccer Club forward Dennis Chin – )

Chin also talked about his appreciation for the support of local soccer fans the past four years and briefly touched on his relationship with Orlando City coach Adrian Heath.

Carnahan Coverage: Aftermath of Orlando City Soccer Club Playoff Loss

The Orlando City Soccer Club is now entirely focused on a move to Major League Soccer in 2015 after suffering an upset loss in the opening round of the USL-PRO postseason Saturday.

Despite the impressive run over the past four years for the club, the way it all ended won’t soon be forgotten.

On Tuesday Orlando City released all but three players from the 2014 USL Pro roster. The Lions are currently in negotiations to retain defender Luke Boden, Adama Mbengue and Harrison Heath.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story on Kevin Molino reacting to loss for Orlando Sentinel – )

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story on Adrian Heath reacting to loss for Major League Soccer – )

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story on Orlando City’s 2015 roster for Major League Soccer – )

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club Falls Short in Final USL Pro Postseason Run

On Saturday the Orlando City Soccer Club suffered its first home loss in 20 matches at the worst possible time.

The Lions, the USL Pro regular season champions, lost 1-0 to eighth-seeded Harrisburg City in the first round of the playoffs at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. The setback ended a bid at capturing a third title in four years for the defending champs before moving up to Major League Soccer in 2015.

Defender Tommy Redding, just 17-years of age, played the entire 90 minutes. He compared the loss to how he felt when he and current teammate Tyler Turner played together on the U-17 National Team and became the first group to fail to qualify for the World Cup a year ago.

“It was tough, but because of that process it makes this a little bit easier, but not too much,” Redding said. “I’ve felt this pain, but not as high of a scale. I was brothers with the guys at Bradenton (home of the U-17 residency program) but wasn’t as close as all my teammates here in Orlando, so it’s really tough.”

( – Click here to read J.C.’s story on Tommy Redding and Tyler Turner for Major League Soccer – )

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George O’Leary and UCF Still Having Trouble Filling Out Schedules

UCF football’s announcement last week that they’d agreed to a home-and-home series with Stanford of the Pac-12 drew modest interest from college football fans. UCF coach George O’Leary didn’t appear to be too excited about it either at his weekly press conference earlier this week at Bright House Networks Stadium.

O’Leary was asked Monday if the new agreement, which sends UCF to California in 2015 and Stanford to Florida in 2019, might mean the Knights have plans to expand recruiting coverage to the West coast.

“No. I don’t see us recruiting more on the West,” he said with a tone that matched his disinterest in the topic. “It’s obviously a great opponent, [but] I’d much rather see us get opportunities to play teams that have some relative to recruiting for us. There’s a lot of teams from the Midwest, to the East, to the South that would be great opponents.”

But O’Leary’s never been blind to the fact that mid-major’s such as UCF are in no position to avoid these types of match-ups, even if they do make for a grueling road trip for both players and fan base.

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Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Caps Final USL PRO Regular Season Match with Win

The Orlando City Soccer Club played its final USL PRO regular season game Saturday, winning 1-0 over Richmond on a goal by Kevin Molino in the 23rd minute.

The win improves the Lions to 45-4-10 all-time in league matches at home, setting them up in good position for a run at their third championship in four years with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s recap of Orlando City vs. Richmond for Orlando Sentinel – )

( – Click here to read J.C.’s preview of Orlando City’s regular season finale for Orlando Sentinel – )