By DAN KARELL
For the first time ever, Louisville could become the home of a USL Pro franchise.
Orlando City Soccer Club minority owner Wayne Estopinal is in talks to bring the club’s USL Pro franchise to his home in the Louisville area in 2015, according to a report in the Courier-Journal. With Orlando City moving to Major League Soccer that year, they’re likely to have their own USL Pro club to use for their younger players to earn experience, and Estopinal is determined to bring that team to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“I’m sure there are other cities that would love to get the franchise, but I will say I’m the only other owner of the team — of Orlando City — that lives outside the Orlando area but in the U.S.,” Estopinal told the C-J. “If you’re going to relocate the franchise, the fact that I’m here … provides some comfort.”
Estopinal also told the C-J that at the USL’s annual meeting last month, a vote was passed to move Orlando City to Louisville in 2015, in case the club’s officials decide ultimately to move the franchise there.
Orlando City president Phil Rawlins and chairman John Bonner are set for a visit to Louisville to speak with potential investors and city officials.
While not having a professional outdoor soccer team in the city’s history, Louisville has played host to two indoor franchises, the Louisville Thunder (1984-1987) and the Louisville Lightning (2009-2012), as well as being the current host of PDL club River City Rovers.
Louisville also has a rich tradition in college soccer, with the University of Louisville perennially one of the best teams in the nation. In 2010, the Cardinals finished runners-up to Akron in the College Cup final. The first overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Andrew Farrell, is a Louisville native and U of L product.
What do you think of this report? Would you like to see professional soccer in Louisville? Do you feel that Orlando City might keep their USL Pro franchise closer to home?
Share your thoughts below.