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Orlando City: “Sole focus is on MLS”

Orlando City SC

When Orlando City appointed Brett Lashbrook to its Front Office last week, plenty of people in the US soccer community stood up and took notice of the USL Pro franchise.

Now we’re getting a pretty good indication as to why his appointment made such a splash.

Lashbrook was brought in with one goal in mind: bring MLS to Orlando. But now a race with Floridian neighbors Miami is on for the next MLS franchise.

That said, the former ‘special assistant’ to MLS Commissioner Don Garber isn’t wasting any time in setting out Orlando City’s goals to reach their target of becoming a Major League Soccer franchise.

The former MLS front office man has worked for the league since 2007, but he started his new job at Orlando City on Monday, so the Orlando Sentinel caught up with him.

Lashbrook was instrumental in setting up New York City FC, Major League Soccer’s 20th and newest franchise. He helped with the negotiations in Queens regarding a new soccer-specific stadium and everything in between. Step one for Orlando City Soccer Club is a new stadium, as Lashbrook declared their current home at the Citrus Bowl as “subpar.”

But he praised the efforts of the club in the last two and a half years, and reinforced his expansion expertise as he rallies Orlando City towards MLS.

It clearly helps to know the process, to know the individuals involved and know the best practices and some of the practices that haven’t worked in other markets. It’s not one special sauce, not one special answer. It’s having a good, solid base of what’s happened in the past and what the trajectory of the league is.

With rumors of David Beckham lining up a new MLS franchise in Miami, can Florida really have go from having zero MLS franchises to two in the blink of an eye? Lashbrook isn’t too concerned about other peoples efforts. He is solely focused on Orlando.

“Our goal is to get in the league. Who else wants to join us is a good problem to have and not our focus,” Lashbrook said. “MLS and all leagues are based on rivalries, so we’d love to have Miami at some point. We just want to be the first one there.”

So although Orlando would welcome Miami, they aim to get to the finish line first. And it certainly seems like they will at this point.

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

With talks calming about Beckham and MIA, Orlando City and their stadium plans are being cranked up a notch behind the scenes. Lashbrook’s influential figure is needed and his contacts with the league office will make sure the Lions do everything they need to do, in order to enter MLS by 2016, if not sooner.

This story will continue to gather momentum over the coming weeks and months. But it’s certainly nice to hear from the man who’s set to make it all click into place.

(MORE: MLS Exec. “Multiple teams in Southeast could be very successful)