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MLS official joins Orlando’s front office to help with expansion

PST Orlando City

Orlando City just ramped up there bid to join MLS a few notches. Well played.

This morning Orlando City Soccer Club have confirmed that Brett Lashbrook -- ‘special assistant’ to MLS Commissioner Don Garber -- has left MLS HQ to join the front office staff at Orlando City, to aid the clubs bid to enter Major League Soccer.

Lashbrook has been instrumental in setting up the New York City FC franchise and after positive talks between Orlando and MLS in recent weeks, it seems as if Lashbrook will act as a key link between the USL Pro outfit and MLS.

“I want to thank the entire Orlando City ownership group for this exciting opportunity,” Lashbrook said. “The foundation they’ve already established is truly impressive – from the number of fans in the stands, the results on the field and the community’s demonstrated enthusiasm for the MLS project. I’m excited to join the team as we all work toward even greater future success.”

Only yesterday, we revealed reports of MLS planing to expand in Florida by 2016, with teams in Orlando and Miami the focus. Orlando City’s appointment of such a huge profile figure within MLS and US soccer suggests they’re moving ever close to becoming an expansion franchise within the next two years.

(More: MLS expansion in Florida set for 2016?)

Orlando City President Phil Rawlins has received widespread praise for his efforts to bring an MLS side to Orlando, with Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs recently announcing a new soccer-specific stadium could be “fast-tracked.”

Rawlins is clearly delighted to get Lashbrook on board.

It speaks volumes about the potential of Orlando City as a MLS team and further demonstrates how committed we are to joining MLS. Brett’s deep knowledge of MLS, including his recent work regarding MLS stadium projects and expansion efforts, will prove invaluable as our organization looks to continue our rapid growth.

So will one man really make such a big difference?

Lashbrook is an influential figure and his appointment alone should give Orlando City plenty of hope about fulfilling their MLS ambitions. It still won’t be easy, but as Rawlins said, getting a man who has vast experience with MLS expansion and stadium projects will certainly speed up things. But it is just potential in Orlando, nothing has been announced by the league and they’re still scrapping night and day to try and figure out how to get into MLS as the next expansion side. Having Miami and David Beckham join the race has certainly raised the stakes.

(More: Orlando buys $8.2 million of prime downtown land, unveils soccer-specific stadium plans)

More news on this is sure to come in the next few weeks and months, as MLS expansion in the southeast continues to heat up.

Orlando or Miami...or both? What do we think guys? Is Major League Soccer ready for soccer to return to Florida?