Man-of-many-parts Alex Leitão bows out



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Alex Leitao steps down Image: Orlando City Soccer

Alex Leitão has stepped down as the head honcho of the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Orlando City SC. An announcement in this regard was made on July 28th. Leitão, who joined the organization in 2015, will remain involved as a soccer operations advisor to the organization.

The Orlando City Soccer Club is an American professional soccer club in Orlando, Florida (US), which competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer. Orlando City SC began play in 2015 as the 21st franchise in MLS, succeeding the USL Pro team of the same name.

The 25,500-capacity Exploria Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando, Florida (US). The stadium is located along West Church Street in the Parramore neighborhood West of Downtown Orlando and serves as the home venue of the Orlando City SC.

‘Orlando City Soccer Club’ quoted Orlando City SC Chairman Mark Wilf as stating, “On behalf of the entire organization, I’d like to thank Alex for everything he has given to Orlando City and the Orlando Pride during his time with the club. We are respectful of his decision to step away and appreciate him for the support he has provided, especially during our acquisition period. We are pleased he will be staying involved with the club in an important role, as we aim to continue the successes both teams have shown on the field this season.”

Stated Leitão, “Being the leader of this organization has been one of the greatest honors of my career. I am incredibly proud of everything that we have been able to accomplish over the previous seven seasons, from our first-ever Orlando City match to last year’s incredible playoff run, to bringing the Pride to Orlando and all of the successes we have achieved in our front office.”

Added Leitão, “I’d like to thank everyone who has dedicated their efforts to the club and who have helped build Orlando City to the globally-recognized franchise that it is. While my decision to step away was not easy, it is one I do with the belief that the club is in great hands with the Wilf family, and I am happy to help assist in providing a smooth transition for this new era for Orlando City SC.”

‘Orlando City Soccer Club’ stated that appointed as the Club’s first CEO of the Major League Soccer era, Leitão has led both the business and soccer departments over the previous seven seasons, building the front office from just a few to one of the largest in the league.

The Brazil native has pushed the club to reach new heights, notably starting with the ‘Lions’ record-breaking debut at the Florida Citrus Bowl (annual college football bowl) in front of a crowd of 62,510 fans. From that point on, Leitão oversaw the project that brought Exploria Stadium to life, the club’s privately-funded soccer-specific venue in downtown Orlando, as well as the introduction of the Orlando Pride as the National Women’s Soccer League’s second-ever expansion side.

On the field, Leitão helped bring some of the game’s biggest stars to the City Beautiful, including Brazilian footballer Kaká, Portuguese footballer Nani, Marta (midfielder Orlando Pride), and U.S. Women’s National Team standouts Alexandra Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, and Sydney Leroux – all of the Orlando Pride.

Most recently, Leitão was integral in bringing the highly-successful ‘MLS is Back Tournament’ to life in Orlando, working with Major League Soccer, Disney and local officials to safely return to play at the 7,500-capacity ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida (US). Following the ‘MLS is Back Tournament’, Leitão’s leadership guided the club through the COVID-19 pandemic, not only maintaining all jobs for the club’s staff, but safely returning both matches and fans to Exploria Stadium for the remainder of the 2020 season and beyond.

The ‘MLS is Back Tournament’ took place during the 2020 Major League Soccer season to mark the league’s return to action after being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which left the United States on thin ice.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States and Canada. The league comprises 27 teams – 24 in the US and 3 in Canada – and plans to expand to 30 teams by the 2023 season.

Under Leitão’s tenure, Exploria Stadium has established itself as the premier destination for some of the game’s greatest competitions, hosting events such as FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) Champions League and Gold Cup, the SheBelieves Cup, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) College Cup as well as numerous friendly matches for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s national teams.

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