A day nearly two years in the making was fulfilled Friday when officials from Osceola County, United Soccer League’s League One and the Orlando City Soccer Club came together to officially cut the ribbon on its training facility at Osceola Heritage Park.
First announced to the public on Nov. 1, 2018, the facility brings together all of the club’s men’s sides: Orlando City’s MLS and Orlando City B minor league team, along with its Development Academy will train there — so the Club’s entire development pyramid will be under one roof for the first time in its five-year history. (It’s Orlando Pride women’s club will train at Sylvan Lake Park in Lake Mary, and have that facility all to itself.)
Orlando City Chief Executive Officer Alex Leitão said “Welcome” to the Osceola County soccer community, highlighting that county officials were welcoming in bringing the Lions to town.
“Ever since we started the academy, we envisioned having everyone under the same roof,” he said. “This place is amazing … allow me to officially welcome you to your new home.”
The outdoor portion of the complex consists of four full soccer fields — one artificial turf and three natural grass, the exact same Latitude 36 Bermuda found at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
The state-of-the-art training building features a screening room big enough to bring players in from all three teams to view game and practice film. Lavish fitness and training rooms give way to a recovery area with a hot tub, cold tub and realllllllly cold tub — a cryogenic chamber that can chill muscles and tissues to minus-180 degrees.
There’s a player’s lounge for down time, and the locker room exactly mimics the one at Exploria Stadium. There’s also 30,000 square feet of meeting and office space for team staff and media operations personnel.
OCSC Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said the complex has “everything needed to be successful and win a title, which is every club’s goal.” (The Lions have yet to reach the playoffs since joining MLS in 2015)
Former Lions’ goalkeeper Miguel Gallado, now a team broadcaster and ambassador, called the facility “a second home, rather than a place of work.”
“The stats show teams that build that level of chemistry have the best chance of winning a championship.”
The MLS squad begins training for the 2020 season, which opens Feb. 29 against Real Salt Lake, on Monday, and Portugese player Nani can’t wait.
“My vacation (the offseason) was too long,” he said at the unveiling. “This training complex is an important piece for our club, the players and staff. I’m happy to have it. This place is amazing.”
Osceola County Stadium, a baseball field for 35 years, becomes the match home for Orlando City B. Its USL home opener is April 11 against the Chattanooga Red Wolves, and the 5,400-seat stadium is still under construction as it’s converted from baseball to soccer stadium.