USL PRO Feature
Saturday, December 27, 2014
2014 saw the closing of one era in USL PRO as another era of North American soccer blossomed, with Orlando City SC completing its transition to Major League Soccer, and one of the club’s former standouts enjoying a breakthrough season in MLS.
After joining USL PRO in 2011, the Lions have served as a model on and off the field, winning two league titles and demonstrating a strong commitment to growing their fan base. Team President and Founder Phil Rawlins was inducted to the USL Hall of Fame in early December for his pioneering efforts with the club.
(WATCH: Rawlins inducted into HOF)
Orlando won the USL PRO championship in 2011 and 2013, but fell in the quarterfinals in 2014 to bring its on-field presence in the league to an end. One of the club’s marquee players in its USL PRO years was English forward Dom Dwyer, who may go down as the first major success story in the burgeoning partnership between USL PRO and MLS.
Orlando signed a formal partnership with Sporting Kansas City to take several KC players on loan during the 2013 season, and Dwyer was one of the first players who arrived in Florida from Kansas City. He went on to excel with the Lions, scoring 15 goals in just 13 league games, before rejoining Sporting toward the end of the season.
When the 2014 season began, Dwyer quickly established himself as a mainstay in Sporting’s starting lineup, as he maintained his red-hot goal-scoring form. He finished 2014 with 22 league goals for Sporting KC, the second-highest total in MLS, setting a new standard for the path of young players in North American soccer.
With both Dwyer and Orlando City establishing themselves at the top of the North American game, they have helped set a new standard for USL PRO clubs and players moving forward.
Top 5 USL PRO storylines of 2015:
No. 5: Orlando City begins new era as former Lion Dwyer excels in MLS
No. 4: Announced Sunday, December 28, 2014
No. 3: Announced Monday, December 29, 2014
No. 2: Announced Tuesday, December 30, 2014
No. 1: Announced Wednesday, December 31, 2014