Exclusive: An interview with new Orlando City star Aurelien Collin

Aurelien Collin has a new home in Major League Soccer. The dominant French defender joined expansion franchise Orlando City from Sporting Kansas City in Monday’s half-day trading window in exchange for allocation money and future considerations.

Collin spent four successful seasons in Kansas City, making over 100 appearances for the club and although he must now concentrate on the next exciting chapter of his career, the 28-year-old centre-back will never forget his time with SKC.

“The last four years were the best of my life. Winning the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup were special moments for me,” he said.

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Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes revealed on Monday that Collin was only let go as a result of salary cap constraints and the 2013 MLS Cup MVP will definitely be missed at Sporting Park.

But Collin is glad that he has been able to stay in MLS by moving to Orlando, and is looking forward to playing alongside Brazilian superstar Kaka in 2015.

“I’m very happy. MLS is growing very fast and Orlando is a big city with big plans.

“Playing with Kaka will be an honor for me, both as a Christian and a soccer player, and I will learn a lot from him.”

Collin has played in France, Spain, Scotland, Greece, England and Portugal. But he has belonged in MLS ever since moving to the league in 2011.

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He knows the league and what is required to succeed, having won both the MLS Cup and US Open Cup with Sporting Kansas City. His experience will be vital for Orlando in their debut campaign and he will need to be a leader for those new to MLS in the Lions’ locker room, including Kaka.

Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft is another huge day for Orlando City as they have the chance to add some more much-needed depth to their squad.

And although many may assume the new boys will try and ease their way into life in Major League Soccer, Collin is targeting success from the onset.

Aurelien Collin Orlando City

When asked what his hopes for the team were in their inaugural campaign, he simply replied: “We want to make the playoffs!”

It will be fascinating to see how Orlando perform next season. But in Aurelien Collin, they already have a leader in defence. And the three-time MLS All-Star certainly knows how to succeed in the ever-growing world of Major League Soccer.

How good a signing is Aurelien Collin for Orlando City SC?

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MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

By Sam Lingwood

With the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft almost upon us, we have a look at a potential lineup made of some of the best possible players left unprotected by their clubs for the draft.

New York City FC and Orlando City SC will pick ten players each in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft and we’ve picked out 11 that could find themselves on the move.

In order for this squad to be put together, a 4-1-4-1 formation has been selected. They may have been left unprotected but these players could prove valuable at one of the expansion franchises in 2015 and beyond.

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts – Portland Timbers

The 2013 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, you can’t look past Donovan Ricketts. He brings experience and a safe pair of hands you can rely on. Has been in MLS since 2009 and has one MLS Cup title to his name.

Right-back: Dan Gargan – LA Galaxy

Another lad who has bundles of experience at MLS level, Dan Gargan is an intriguing option. A consistently solid level of performances last term make him a standout choice if New York City or Orlando City are looking for a right-back.

Centre-backs: AJ Soares & Carlos Salcedo – New England Revolution & Real Salt Lake

The centre-back pairing are formidable. AJ Soares had a high standard of performances last year, and is at a great age to put in even better displays at the back in the hope he can push on and win the MLS Cup in 2015 with whoever he ends up with, so long as he stays in MLS. Carlos Salcedo is a young talent who didn’t feature consistently last season. However, he’s a great prospect and with the right experience around him, he will thrive in the scenario presented.

Left-back: Heath Pearce – Montreal Impact

Heath Pearce is another experienced defender to shepherd either team through their inaugral season in Major League Soccer. He has a great CV to boast off, and at 30 he still has some good years left in the tank. A sound left-back who will get the job done if selected.

Defensive-midfield: Hendry Thomas – FC Dallas

Previous teams include Wigan Athletic when they were in the English Premier League. Hendry Thomas is a consistently high performer for his home nation Honduras and he represented them once again at the 2014 World Cup. Injury restricted him to just 10 appearances for FC Dallas in 2014 but he is worth the gamble.

Right-midfield: Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution

Diego Fagundez is picked to play on the right wing for this lineup. The 19-year-old playmaker has plenty of pace, talent and technique. Will be around for years and could be terrorising defences with one of the expansion franchises next season.

Central-midfield: Ben Speas – Columbus Crew

Another young lad, Ben Speas put in some good performances when selected last term and the 23-year-old will be hoping for more game time next season as he looks to build and push on to greater things with whoever he plays for in 2015.

Central-midfield: Peguy Luyindula – New York Red Bulls

Peguy Luyindula may be 35-years-old but the French playmaker showed that he can still be a difference-maker during the MLS Playoffs this season. Five goals and one assist in 26 regular appearances in 2014 make Luyindula an interesting option. He then netted three goals in five playoff games for the Red Bulls before they were knocked out by New England.

Left-midfield: Bobby Convey – New York Red Bulls

Bobby Convey offers some more EPL experience after spending five years with Reading before returning to MLS in 2009. At 31, he still has some talent left in the tank to help see either New York City FC and Orlando City succeed in their debut season.

Forward: Patrick Mullins – New England Revolution

Patrick Mullins put in a great performance off the bench in the MLS Cup Final on Sunday and the rookie was impressively consistent in his first season. Looking forward to bigger and better things from this lad next year.

This looks like a good team, playing a solid formation and they would probably do well as a squad in MLS. It will be great to see who is chosen in Wednesday’s draft and how they all get on next year.

How well would the Unprotected XI do if they were an MLS side – how many of them will be selected on Wednesday?

Trade crazy! All the MLS trades from a busy window on Monday

Major League Soccer clubs across the country have been busy acquiring players today. The half-day trade window gave MLS teams four hours to trade players for the first time this offseason. Clubs could also re-sign their own players.

11 players were on the move on Monday as 10 different clubs were involved with some form of trade in the final opportunity to reshuffle squad’s before Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft.

The Expansion Draft gets underway at 19:00 (UK time) on Wednesday and the offseason trade window will reopen after the draft ends.

Here are all today’s trades in what has been a busy day:

Michael Harrington: Portland Timbers – Colorado Rapids

The Colorado Rapids acquired defender Michael Harrington from the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money. The 28-year-old made 25 appearances for the Timbers last season and should shore up a leaky Colorado defence that conceded more goals than anyone else in 2014.

Nat Borchers: Real Salt Lake – Portland Timbers

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The Timbers quickly replaced Harrington by bringing in Nat Borchers from Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake for allocation money. The 33-year-old centre-back was with RSL since 2008 and started 32 games last season. Borchers was one of five players the Timbers signed on Monday.

Josh Williams: Columbus Crew – New York City FC

New York City have bulked up their defence with the addition of Josh Williams from Columbus Crew in exchange for allocations funds. Williams, 26, made 14 appearances for the Crew this season.

Andrew Driver – Joe Willis/Samuel Inkoom: Houston Dynamo – DC United

English winger Andrew Driver joined Eastern Conference winners DC United from Houston Dynamo in exchange for Joe Willis and Samuel Inkoom. The Dynamo have bolstered their defence by bringing in goalkeeper Willis and right-back Inkoom while DC have added another attacking option in Driver.

Amobi Okugo:  Philadelphia Union – Orlando City SC

Orlando City brought in three players on Monday. Amobi Okugo was the first as the 23-year-old holding midfielder joined from Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money and a 2016 2nd Round SuperDraft pick. Okugo made 32 appearances for the Union in 2014, scoring and assisting two goals.

Aurelien Collin: Sporting Kansas City – Orlando City SC

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Orlando’s second pick-up was Aurelien Collin. The dominant centre-back will undoubtedly give the Lions a solid defensive leader. He joins Orlando in exchange for allocation money and future considerations. Collin, MLS Cup MVP from 2013, made 26 appearances for Sporting Kansas City in 2014, scoring twice.

Tally Hall: Houston Dynamo – Orlando City SC

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The third acquisition Orlando made was goalkeeper Tally Hall who joins from Houston in exchange for allocation money and an international roster spot. Hall and Collin will need to keep the Lions defence solid in their inaugural season in MLS next season.

C.J. Sapong: Sporting Kansas City – Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia bolstered their attack with the addition of C.J. Sapong from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for the Union’s highest first-round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft. Sapong scored twice in 20 appearances for SKC in 2014.

Bernardo Anor: Columbus Crew – Sporting Kansas City

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After seeing Collin and Sapong leave, Sporting Kansas City brought in someone in the form of midfielder Bernardo Anor from Columbus Crew. Anor joined SKC in exchange for allocation money after scoring six goals with one assist in 27 games this year.

Omar Salgado: Vancouver Whitecaps – New York City FC

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New York City also made a move to improve their attacking options ahead of their debut season by bringing in Omar Salgado from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a swap for Future Considerations. The 21-year-old only played eight times for the Whitecaps in 2014.

Joe Nasco – Dimitry Imbongo/Geoffrey Castillion: Colorado Rapids – New England Revolution

MLS Cup Final losers New England Revolution also made a move in the short trade window by bringing in Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Joe Nasco and a third round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft. In exchange the Revs sent forwards Dimitry Imbongo and Geoffrey Castillion as well as a second round SuperDraft pick.

Expansion franchises New York City and Orlando City also picked up international roster slots for the 2015 and 2016 seasons from DC United. Both clubs will now be looking ahead to Wednesday’s highly-anticipated Expansion Draft.

What did you make of Monday’s busy day of trading in MLS?

MLS to listen to three expansion projects tomorrow

Major League Soccer will meet with three MLS expansion candidates on Thursday as MLS Commissioner Don Garber looks to meet his target of 24 teams by the end of the decade.

Sacramento, Las Vegas and Minneapolis representatives will all present their cases to the league office in New York but no firm decisions will be made until after December 6 – at the MLS Board of Governors meeting.

MLS has grown rapidly in recent years and the rate of expansion across the country is showing no signs of slowing down.

New York City FC and Orlando City SC enter the league next season, while Atlanta and Los Angeles FC are set to join in 2017.

David Beckham’s Miami franchise is still hoping to join MLS but problems with stadium plans and other issues are stalling progress.

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Without Miami, the league will have 22 teams in 2017, and two more are expected by 2020.

Three more markets will look to join the rapidly growing league when they present their cases at MLS headquarters tomorrow.

Sacramento has a big support base for soccer and they are already used to filling a soccer specific stadium with over 11,000 fans in USL Pro.

Minnesota is another area with a strong soccer support base but two separate groups will present their cases for an MLS side.

One group owns the current NASL team Minnesota United, while the other owns NFL side Minnesota Vikings and perhaps importantly the new 65,000-seater stadium they are set to move into in 2016.

The third expansion hopeful is Las Vegas but there is so much doubt surrounding the project on the west coast that it is unlikely they will be implemented by the end of the decade.

The city does not currently have a soccer team so it is difficult to know how much people would take to it, and an MLS franchise would have to compete with so many other entertainment outlets.

Major League Soccer looks certain to have at least 24 teams by 2020 and tomorrow’s meeting in New York could set the ball rolling for at least one more MLS franchise.

Who do you think has the strongest case for an MLS expansion franchise?

Jack Butland linked with shock move to Orlando City SC

Orlando City SC are lining up a move to bring Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland in on loan for the start of their inaugural campaign in Major League Soccer, according to a report in the Daily Star.

The expansion side are looking to bolster their squad ahead of their first season in MLS, and a loan move for the England shot-stopper certainly shows ambition.

Butland, 21, is currently on loan at Championship side Derby but that spell ends in January and Orlando will look to bring him in for the first few months of the season.

The Lions have already acquired Tally Hall from Houston Dynamo but Hall is out until around June after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the last campaign.

Butland could gain vital experience abroad as a starter between the sticks, but any deal would have to allow the England Under-21 ‘keeper to return in time for the European Championships at the end of June 2015.

Orlando have strong connections with Stoke City as president Phil Rawlins was formerly a long-term director with the Potters and manager Adrian Heath played for the Premier League club too.

A move to bring in Butland would be a great signing for Orlando but the young star would have to be willing to make the long move away from home.

Still, the added incentive of playing in the same side as Brazilian superstar Kaka could be enough to tempt Butland as he is still a way off of starting in the Premier League with Stoke.

Would Jack Butland be a good signing for Orlando City?

Orlando City SC release inaugural MLS kit

Orlando City Soccer Club unveiled their first-ever MLS kit today ahead of their debut season starting in just four months, and it didn’t disappoint.

Fans had been given sneak peak’s for the past few days, but the full kit has now be revealed and the bright purple Lions will hope to roar into action in their standout colours.

The purple shirt features three classic Adidas stripes down the sleeves and is a simple, but classy kit that resembles a purple version of that of Chelsea FC.

Star signing Kaka was at the forefront of the release, and the kit also features the new MLS logo on the arm in an unveiling that only builds excitement for the 2015 season.

Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins was delighted with the outcome and is now looking ahead to the new season.

“We worked very closely with Adidas during the design process of our first-ever MLS home kit, as we want the jersey to have a simple and classic look that accurately represents our brand and prominently displays our long-time partners Orlando Health.

Orlando City SC Kit

“We are very proud of the end result, and we can’t wait to see our team take the field next year,” he added.

Orlando City SC will join MLS for their first season in March, along with New York City FC – who are set to reveal their 2015 jersey’s on Thursday November 13.

The home kit will be available for purchase in early December, but pre-sale for both the short-sleeve and long-sleeve version of the kit is available today on OrlandoCitySC.com.

What do you make of the new Orlando City SC kit?

Ashley Cole again linked with MLS move – New York Red Bulls interested

The New York Red Bulls are reportedly weighing up a move for former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, as they begin their hunt for designated players.

Cole is currently playing in Serie A with AS Roma after signing a two-year deal back in July, despite interest from Major League Soccer at that time too.

However, the experienced left-back has failed to impress coaching staff at Roma, and he was substituted at half-time during the 7-0 loss to Bayern Munich last week.

The 33-year-old is back on the radar of two MLS clubs as a result, according to the Daily Mail.

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Orlando City are believed to be interested, but it’s the Red Bulls who appear Cole’s most likely destination were he to change his stance on the league.

Many fans were angered by the Englishman’s comments this summer as he referred to MLS as “an easy ride”, but a move to New York could now be an enticing option if things don’t improve in Italy.

Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill – the Red Bull’s current two designated players, are looking likely to leave the club after the playoffs, and so the club will have money to invest in someone of Cole’s calibre.

Cole’s good friend and former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard is set to move to the Big Apple to join up with New York City FC in February, and this might also influence the Roma man’s decision.

Would Ashley Cole be a good capture for MLS? Should the Red Bulls invest in him?

A bright future awaits the Dangerous Dom Dwyer

Dom Dwyer is currently the top scorer in Major League Soccer this season, but how much do we really know about the Sporting Kansas City striker?

At 23 years-old he has plenty of years left in front of him, and the English-born forward is showing all the signs of a great finisher.

Growing up in England, Dwyer was a member of Norwich City’s academy until 2006, until he decided to make the move across the pond to pursue his career in MLS.

With his finishing qualities and blistering pace, Dwyer is a very appealing target and don’t rule out a move to the Premier League as he could easily play in England.

With ten goals in twelve appearances this season, Dwyer is leading the line for Sporting Kansas City to great effect.

With SKC using a 4-3-3 formation, Dwyer is normally supported by Graham Zusi from the left along with Sal Zizzo or Jacob Peterson and he thrives as the central striker.

However, with Zusi’s absence with the USMNT in preparation for the World Cup, there is a huge weight of expectation on young Dwyer’s shoulders, and he seems to be coping pretty well.

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(Photo: Dom Dwyer went to the top of the MLS scoring charts with another brace on friday night)

Kansas City played a strong Toronto side on Friday night and Dwyer popped up with another brace, his third of the season.

Recent form dictates that Dwyer won’t stop anytime soon, as he now has six goals in his last four games.

Dwyer has always had a love affair with the score sheet, while on-loan at Orlando City last season he notched up fifteen goals in thirteen appearances.

Many will say he is the best striker in the league right now and the stats prove this hard to argue against, a fantastic statement in a league that can boast the talents of Jermaine Defoe, Robbie Keane and Clint Dempsey.

One thing for sure is SKC will get goals with Dwyer up top, and we can expect them to be in the playoffs defending their title at the end of the regular season.

Time will tell if he can sustain this form but at the rate he’s scoring, an international call is surely not out of reach in the future?

Orlando City targeting Brazilian superstars

Orlando City SC are looking at bringing in Brazilian midfielders Robinho and Kaka from AC Milan ahead of their debut season in Major League Soccer next year, according to reports across Italy.

The Orlando City franchise are set to join MLS next season, at the start of 2015, and have made the Brazilian stars their transfer priorities.

Kaka has been linked with the move since March, after he visited the franchise’s training facilities with owner and friend Flávio Augusto Da Silva.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera, the former Ballon d’Or winner stated that his next move will be to the US, when he leaves Milan for the second time in his career.

“One day, I would like to play in America, let’s see. At the end of the season, I will talk to [general manager Adriano Galliani]. Not just to speak about bonuses and money, money is not the main thing for me now, and I think that is understood.”

“If it turns out I need to move, I will choose the MLS,” Kaka added.

The 32-year-old would be an incredible coup for Orlando City, and Major League Soccer as well if he were to make the move stateside.

And today’s reports from Italy indicate that Robinho is also keen to make the move across to the US, following teammate Kaka to Orlando.

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(Photo: Thumbs up from Robinho, who fancies the move to MLS)

The Gazzetta dello Sport have reported that the former Real Madrid and Manchester City winger has the option to move to Orlando in time for next season, as well as having offers from Brazil.

The 30-year-old is set to leave Milan this summer, and it is believed that his likes the option of an extended break before joining up with Orlando City in time for next season.

His flair would certainly light up MLS and he would undoubtedly thrive in the league.

The same report confirms that Kaka is also likely to join the side in time for the new season, but he will remain with Milan until January, before heading over to the US.

Both Kaka and Robinho were omitted from the Brazilian national side for this summer’s World Cup and are now ready to enjoy a new challenge away from European football.

Do you think Kaka and Robinho will make the move to Orlando City?