"I can remember a meeting very similar to this in Philadelphia a few years ago," said Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer. Philadelphia started MLS play in 2010 and is already a wildly successful franchise. After today, Orlando City is very much on MLS' list.
"It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when."
Those are the words, repeated several times during his media interviews after the Supporters Summit, straight from Commissioner Garber. He is fully behind Orlando City becoming an MLS team. All we have to do now is figure out the details. We're handling our end regarding the stadium solution and dealing with the City, but Commissioner Garber was quite clear - the supporters need to be involved.
Garber left City fans with several suggestions on how to proceed:
Grow the fan base
Supporters need to engage more with sponsors
Grow the sponsorship base (see point 2)
Other issues addressed were the status of MLS wanting a second team in New York and the possibility of a team in Miami. NY2 remains a focus for the league, but Garber also acknowledged that it will take time to get that franchise up and running. He also made it clear that MLS will not stop at 20 teams, but will not expand for expansion's sake. The league has a clear understanding of what needs to be done to become an expansion team, and Orlando City is very much on that path already.
The message was clear. Orlando City will be an MLS expansion team in the future. How soon that will happen is up to you. We'll handle the politics, but we need you to help make this dream a reality. Bring your friends to matches. Get them to understand that the only way to truly experience soccer, especially Orlando City soccer, is at a live match.
With your help, we will be in MLS. The future is very, very bright for the Beautiful Game in the City Beautiful.