Orlando City Soccer Club coach: 'Louisville could certainly be M - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Orlando City Soccer Club coach: 'Louisville could certainly be MLS'

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9,434 fans showed up to cheer on Louisville City FC against Orlando City SC Tuesday night (Photo by Eric Crawford). 9,434 fans showed up to cheer on Louisville City FC against Orlando City SC Tuesday night (Photo by Eric Crawford).

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After a large mid-week crowd turned out to Louisville Slugger Field to see Louisville’s professional soccer team host the club’s Major League affiliate, the coach of Orlando City SC was very complimentary of the atmosphere at the stadium.

“I think Louisville could certainly be MLS,” Coach Adrian Heath told mlssoccer.com. “Obviously, they need to get their own stadium and sort one or two things out, but I don’t see any reason why they can’t.”

Louisville City FC took down the Lions 3-1, though Orlando’s star players Kaka, Brek Shea and rookie sensation Cyle Larin never took the field.

Despite the lack of big league star power, over 9,000 fans showed up to cheer on the home team and get a glimpse of what Major League Soccer looks like.

The 9,000 number is key, especially after meetings between the club and the mayor earlier this week. Part of the discussions held Monday included talking about the possibility of building a soccer specific stadium for Louisville City – which would likely have 9,000 seats.

However, the club’s goal of landing an MLS franchise in the years to come would require the stadium to be expandable to 20,000 seats. After the meeting, the club’s managing owner Wayne Estopinal said he hopes there will be a positive announcement around the end of the team’s first season.

“They have great fans and it was a great evening,” Heath said after the exhibition match Tuesday. “I was really impressed with everything they have done here.”

Louisville landed Orlando’s USL franchise when the Lion’s departed the third-tier league for Major League Soccer, and close ties between Estopinal and Orlando City has helped Louisville’s team develop.

City’s coach James O’Connor was a player-coach for Orlando and brought in two former Lions in Bryan Burke and Aodhan Quinn.

“I knew James would do well,” Heath added. “That was one of the reasons we put him in for the job. We said to them ‘Listen, if you’re looking for a coach, James O’Connor would be fantastic.’"

Estopinal remains a minority investor in Orlando City SC and the Orlando ownership maintains a small stake in Louisville City.

Time will tell if the city can handle MLS expansion, but the support has been strong for Louisville City’s inaugural season as the club sits second in the league for average attendance.

Related: Louisville City FC talks future of the club, possible stadium with Mayor Fischer

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