Orlando City hire expansion expert to help push for place in MLS

Orlando City crest

By DAN KARELL

The man who was the lead figure in Major League Soccer’s plans to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park has left MLS for Orlando City SC.

Brett Lashbrook has accepted a position with Orlando’s USL club, where according to a release, he will be working to help finalize a stadium deal and eventually negotiate MLS expansion, trying to achieve the club’s personal goal of entering the league by 2015.

The last seven years, Lashbrook served as the special assistant to MLS Commissioner Don Garber working on the latest New York City expansion team, NYC FC, and potentially a stadium in Queens, New York. Lashbrook will officially begin with Orlando City on June 10.

What do you make of this news? Do you believe the Flushing Meadows stadium plans are done? Do you see Lashbrook helping bring MLS to Florida by 2015?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in U.S. Soccer, USL Pro. Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Orlando City hire expansion expert to help push for place in MLS

  1. DC Josh says:

    This is a serious push by Orlando. I don’t know if they can get a deal done by 2015, but they are certainly putting all their efforts into joining MLS. The big question is will fans show up?

    • 407 says:

      They already are.

      • solles says:

        Not at MLS levels but they have good crowds for USL. But aside from Portland, none of the recent lower league “promotion/expansions” have drawn better than Orlando.

      • USMNT says:

        He means enough fans to support a team long-term. As a SE resident myself, our fans are notorious for leaving seats vacant.

        • 407 says:

          Fair point, agreed.

          But by “SE,” if you mean “SouthEast,” I’ve seen that, too. Funny thing is, though, that it’s been the opposite for this soccer team. It’s 180-degrees different from going to a Magic game. In a very short period of time, OC matches have become a “gotta-be-there” event. It’s surprising, but it’s been a blast so far. Can’t wait to see what we do to Phoenix Friday night.

  2. slowleftarm says:

    Shouldn’t go past 20. Orlando should replace Chivas USA once MLS has decided that it’s had enough of those clowns with their non-existent fan base and racist employment policies.

    • ATL Rocks says:

      24, including Atlanta. Why, you ask?

      link to atlwantsmls.com

      • Socom 2 says:

        I actually think the league needs to go to 28 but after 22 teams, the league needs to fix all the existing teams.

        Fc dallas -> downtown stadium
        NE Revs -> Boston stadium
        Crew – Downtown stadium
        Chicago – > downtown chi town stadium

        • Josh D says:

          DC – Any stadium they can call their own.

        • El Naranja says:

          Forgetting the fact that “downtown sss” doesn’t cure anything…let’s break these down.

          Dallas – if the Cowboys can’t get a downtown stadium, what makes you think FCD can? Also they’re already in a SSS in the fastest growing community in the country. They’re surrounded by millions of people. The problem isn’t the location so much as management. That said, they’ve turned their attendance around and once that’s stable, I’m sure they’ll focus on the ad $$ next.

          Boston – while a stadium in Boston proper would be nice, that is really hard to do considering the limited (relatively) land available. Also, even in a shiny new SSS, their problems wouldn’t be cured. Kraft is a cheap owner and that won’t change in a new home. Yes the dude saved the league but at some point he’ll have to either put money into the Revs or sell. In either case this team is far down MLS’ list of problems.

          Crew – now this is interesting. Rumor is they are putting feelers out about a new home. At over a dozen years old and minimally built, they are in need of a more modern home. As before, though, putting them in downtown Columbus wouldn’t solve anything. Their ad $$ is low (allegedly) and that needs work. Whether it’s possible to do that or not is a discussion for another day but their stadium is plenty serviceable for now. Attracting the fans back is more important. People showed up in huge #s over the years so location isn’t the issue.

          Chicago – Why you pick teams with current stadiums is beyond me but cut and paste the previous 3 for my answer to this.

          Now DC and Chivas? Those are serious $$ issues for the league. They need stadiums yesterday. I really hope MLS gives their full attention to DC as they’re a key organization and a stadium is needed sooner than later. Before RFK one day collapses in on itself.

        • Sgc says:

          I don’t know why we throw these numbers around and argue about them. It isn’t about the number, it’s about adding strong teams that bring something to the league.

          • slowleftarm says:

            Can you name a league anywhere with 28 or 30 teams? If we had pro/rel with an MLS 2, then you could easily go to 40 within the next 20-25 years. Now that sounds good.

    • beto says:

      right, has anyone made a offer to Chivas yet? Sounds like they are available to the highest bidder.. i just wonder if Garber’s $100M francise price tag is a better deal than the Chivas price tag.

  3. Travis says:

    Forget expansion, there is a failure of a franchise in LA that is begging for a new start somewhere else.

    • McQ says:

      Agreed. If you don’t move the team to San Diego move them to Orlando, they seem to be on the short list.

      • Socom 2 says:

        if you are not from san diego, you dont know what you’re talking about

        Its a fair weather fan city like miami. Sacramento would probably be a better spot but

        Chivas to phoenix AZ

  4. MLSfan says:

    Chivas Florida FC

  5. Carl says:

    Here’s an idea. How about building this new stadium close to Disney World. What you guys think? Yay or Nay?

    • Neal says:

      Nay. Think downtown is better. Not much to do in that area other than Disney

    • 407 says:

      I’d love to know why.

      As an OC supporter and Orlando resident, there’s no way the stadium or anything to do with this team should be anywhere near Disney or the rest of the theme park district area. True or not, that would make the team an attraction aimed at tourists, but this is the city’s team, all of the Orlando region. By way of explanation, this subject came up both times the NBA Magic were requesting their new stadium, and even with the Magic, it was a non-starter to even consider putting the city’s sports teams several miles away from the city core, and next to the theme parks and their hotels.

      In a word, Nay. In a few extra words, a thousand times Nay.

      • Sgc says:

        True. Tourists aren’t going to see the local professional soccer team. You’re trying to appeal to natives, and you need to be where they live.

  6. sho says:

    Um….currently at 19 teams with the new NY team that makes 20.

    Does anyone know what the plan is for expanding beyond 20? I thought 20 was a limit.

    • fischy says:

      You thought wrong. The league might pause there..or, it might not. I think it fairly certain the league will be at 24 teams by the time the US or Canada host a World Cup.

    • Gnarls says:

      No way will MLS stop at 20 teams. The US sports landscape is full of 30+ team leagues. Thirty teams sounds absurd, but when you consider the conference system, we’d likely have either two conference of 15 teams or three conferences of 10 teams each. At any rate, 24 teams is well within reason as long as the cities are chosen wisely and MLS continues to “promote” teams with existing fan bases, such as Orlando, Indy, etc.

    • El Naranja says:

      You’re thinking of Old Seppy Blatts remarks about this. All he is worried about is how many league games there are. He was assuming that everyone *cough* Europe *cough* using home/away schedule (which isn’t true even in Europe) so wanted a 38 game schedule as max.

      This being USA we can have 28, 30 whatever teams and only play a 34 game schedule. And no one would bat an eyelash.

      Btw, why would MLS look to shore up D2? They’ve a deal with D3 and they’ll “shore” them up because it serves their interests (Reserve League).

  7. K says:

    NO NO NO

    20 TEAMS IS ENOUGH

    build up D2

    • Mysterious J says:

      18 is enough consider the quality (and lack thereof) on the pitch…but we are destined to have at least 22, if not 24.

      Meanwhile, this guy’s great success getting the Flushing stadium built has earned him a new job?!?

  8. Prettypenguin says:

    I would love this. My sister lives in Orlando, and I would totally do a PTFC away day over there; same with Miami if they get a team, I could fit in some footy between the endless family visits.

  9. Chuck says:

    Buy off Chivas USA ffs.

  10. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Orlando City Needs to get rid of that Mufasa lion on their crest before I take them seriously.

  11. Allyn Needham says:

    If Beckham’s group does choose Miami, MLS will need another team in that region. Orlando is the top candidate to be that rival. Whether it is a Chivas move or a new franchise, Orlando only makes sense with Miami coming on board. Also new franchises in both cities would make 21 and 22 for MLS and make the scheduling easy. My bet is Chivas to San Diego and Miami and Orlando come in the same year (2015). That should stop the expansion insanity for a while.

  12. MB says:

    I think the best way to deal with Chivas is just to straight up fold the team and organization. There are lower division teams like Orlando City, Phoenix FC, and San Antonio Scorpions that are ready for the jump. Does anyone know how this process would turn out if it happened, and what would happen to the players? Would they be distributed to the rest of the teams in MLS in some sort of order?

    • fischy says:

      The answer to your question is “No.” No one knows how that would shake out.

      • Ron says:

        Why wouldn’t it shake out similarly to how things shook out when Miami Fusion and Tampa Mutiny went belly-up? The players IIRC were free to sign with any other team. MLS or other, and many players did. Valderrama ended up in Colorado, for example.

        • Neal says:

          There was a draft of the Miami and Tampa Bay players similar to the expansion draft.

  13. Scott e Dio93 says:

    I rather have MLS in Orlando than South Florida (Dade county or Broward County).

  14. Siberian says:

    Expansion should always be dictated by the seriousness of the owners. If there is a serious MLS franchise in Des Moines with deep pockets, then bring it on. As long as the club can handle the ups and downs of professional sports, then the more the merrier (and the more for national television).

    Also, I support the name ‘Soccer Club’. It sounds good to my American ears. If you need football club, then take yourself to Europe where they have a gazillion football clubs.

  15. anonymous says:

    Think MLS will grow to 24 teams in the next 3-5 years and then stop there. 24 teams gives 2 divisions of 12 teams and a convenient schedule of 34 games (11×2 + 12×1). Relocate Chivas USA and add 4 teams.

    • drew11 says:

      I wouldn’t count the 3 Canadian teams in your calculations. That gets you up to a roughly 28 team league if you have 24 US based MLS clubs..

      • Seriously says:

        What? That makes zero sense. Of course you count the Canadian teams and anonymous is right with his 24 team schedule. It just works. 28 is too cumbersome and will force a very strange schedule or too many games.

  16. bryan says:

    yeah, i agree. if they can get everything into place, i feel MLS has to give them Chivas USA. it makes too much sense. and depending on how quick Beckham decides, we could see three new teams in 2015. obviously one of those teams isn’t “new” since it’s just a re-branded Chivas USA, but Miami and NYCFC would be brand new.

    the only issue is that would leave 21 teams, which isn’t a nice, even 20.

  17. MZ says:

    Really surprised at how this Flushing Meadows plan disappeared out of nowhere. There must have been some behind-the-scenes action that proved it was never going to happen. Mr. Lashbrook’s movement seems to confirm that theory, at least.

  18. beto says:

    short term in 2015 when NYCFC enters and Chivas USA is history (either moved or folded) it would be convient to have another Eastern team.

    10/conference in 2015
    W: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, SJ, LA, RSL, Colorado, Dallas, Houston, SKC
    E: Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Columbus, NE, NJ, Philadelphia, DC + NYCFC and Orlando?

    Orlando fits the bill for 2015 while Miami sounds more like a long term plan.. after them i would hope for 2 western teams and 2 eastern teams.

    • ACS says:

      St. Louis needs to get something together, I don’t know about 2015, but by 2020 there should be a team there.

      • Seriously says:

        Because St. Louis has such a great history with their soccer clubs… oh, wait…

  19. bring nasl to el paso,tx says:

    MLS wants 24 to 28 teams, and by 2026 when usa, canada or mexico gets the world cup. So in 13 years, MLS will have above 24 teams easily, god knows where chivas usa will be but MLS will have more than 24 teams. If i was garber, i would go for 28 teams, with 14 teams in each conference but the bad thing is that the west has less markets and the east has a buffet of markets.
    For instance the west could get, vegas, san diego but xolos owns them, sacramento, san francisco but san jose owns them, phoenix or tucson, okc or tulsa, austin or san antonio, albuquerque or el paso, omaha.
    The east has a never ending list, indy, cosmos,nc-sc, tampa, miami, orlando, atl, tennessee, alabama, baltimore, detroit, minneapolis, quebec, st.louis, chicago 2, louisville, puerto rico.
    Wit thinternational c afraid of nba,nfl

    • bring nasl to el paso,tx says:

      Bottom line says, with enough warm markets the MLS gets, then,why not pursue the fifa calendar and not be afraid of the nba and nfl. Us open cup would get better, league play would improve, inter play would come into play as well.

      • drew11 says:

        No FIFA calendar because there is a lot less competition for TV money in the spring/summer. The growth of MLS largely depends on getting ever bigger TV deals.

      • slowleftarm says:

        This guy has clearly never been to the northern half of the country in winter.

  20. It’s a “recommendation” set by FIFA in order to keep players from having to play too many games. It’s not a hard and fast limit, but nobody else has broken it yet. Then again the only top-flight league that’s really comparable to MLS geographically is Australia’s A-League. They’ve only been around since 2005 and only have 10 teams. If MLS splits into true Eastern and Western Conferences like every other American leauge (which seems to be the plan) we keep in line with the spirit of the recommendation. A true balanced table can’t work but if it’s a balanced table within each league and then ties the two leagues together in a playoff, MLS isn’t playing many more games than anybody else.

    link to sportsbusinessdaily.com

    • bring nasl to el paso,tx says:

      I say 24 to 28 teams is good, each conference can easily have 14 teams by 2026. By having more teams in the league, us open cup would get better, champions league spots are fought more, and like i said before MLS can change calendars and not be afraid of nfl and nba or ncaa.

      • slowleftarm says:

        The MLS is “afraid” of freezing cold weather, snow outs and empty stadiums. And they should be.

      • Seriously says:

        28 is too many, it forces a long schedule (bad) or a wacky schedule (also bad) where 24 teams allows for a really nice schedule. Two, twelve team conferences you play each team in your conference twice and each team in the other conference once for a 34 game regular season. That is completely manageable and feels good as well with every team playing every other team at least once.

        • Turgid Jacobian says:

          Agreed, though 26 teams works pretty well, too. However, the playoffs, if any, should pit just the top two from each conference in home-home and then one-off championship.

  21. SanFran415 says:

    Jeez!

    People asking for Phoenix have either never been there or are a gila monsters in a human suit.

    The average afternoon temperature in Phoenix from May to September is OVER 100!

  22. Jubez says:

    With all the lower division teams in the Carolinas and Virginia, I’ve always wondered why they are never considered for an MLS team. I know nothing of the area. Would Richmond, Charlotte or Raleigh ever be considered for MLS?

    I’m guessing if the league goes to 24-28 teams in the future, another Canadian team will be desired. Despite Edmonton having an NASL side, and Ottawa soon to have one as well, Calgary is the obvious choice. There are boatloads of money in that city, and an ever growing population.

    Despite the lousy current team, Toronto, as the 4th largest market in North America, could very easily support a second team. Put in the 905, in either Miississauga or Durham Region and you’d have a great rivalry. Certainly better than Ottawa or Quebec City as options.

  23. Brandon says:

    Kill Chivas USA with fire
    NYC 2015
    ORL + MIA 2016
    MIN/STL/CAR 2020
    MIN/STL/CAR 2021
    MIN/STL/CAR 2022
    A nice 24 team league that everyone seems to agree is the limit (although before everyone agreed that 20 was the limit, I really don’t see MLS stopping at 24).