Yesterday we had a look at the view from 10,000 feet. The heat map showed us regional trends and overall impressions of where Orlando City’s players have played and trained before making the roster in the City Beautiful.
Today we are going to dig into the details. First, if you’d like to have a look at the interactive map itself, have a look here. The map is great, easy to navigate, and pretty easy to get a bit lost in!
This snapshot of the world view shows each club, university, youth team, or development team that has featured a player who would later play for Orlando City in any of their two MLS seasons, or who are on the roster for the 2017 season as of February 7, 2017. Well expect Martin Paterson, but more on that tomorrow!
Each dot represents one place, regardless of the level of the club and how many Orlando City players played there. IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL for example has trained seven players that would later line up in purple. A number of MLS clubs have featured numerous Orlando City players, including LA Galaxy and the Portland Timbers to name a few. Let’s dig into some close-ups!
This cutaway of the North East shows the concentration of clubs in the area, unsurprising given the number of population centers and the fact the area is a traditional hotbed for soccer in the United States. Most of these spots are clubs, either MLS or USL. A few are colleges.
This map of Southern California provides an interesting contrast, with the area hosting both a number of professional and university teams. Compare this to the earlier Orlando City birthplace map and there is an interesting correlation between the number of players born in the area and how many stayed in the area to play. Like the map of the North East, this area is a major population center.
As we look worldwide, there are some other regions worth looking at. As we saw in the heatmap, Orlando has tapped its connections within the UK and brought over a number of players who have trained with (mostly) English clubs.
Twenty-six UK clubs have trained players who later played for Orlando City. The fact that Orlando has had a number of “journeymen” players from England, Lewis Neal or Seb Hines for example, add to the number of English clubs. Links with Stoke City could also boost that number. Conversely, major training hubs of European soccer, Spain and the Netherlands are underrepresented in Orlando’s ranks. Links with Portuguese club Benfica have shown a result with a number of clubs helping in the progress of players.
One of the surprise regions was Buenos Aires in Argentina.
And the strangest? A trivia question… Which Orlando City player played on a desolate island off the coast of Iceland?
Look at that far away place… The club’s name? Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja, or just ÍBV for short.
ÍBV have won four Icelandic Cups and three league championships, and also had England National Team regular David James in their line-up in 2013. In 2001 Orlando City’s first ever goalscorer and current OCB player Lewis Neal lined up for ÍBV for five games during a loan from Stoke City.
Like most footballers, I’m sure Lewis Neal has got some interesting stories about all the various places he has plied his trade. I’d love to ask him about his time in Iceland one of these days.
Tomorrow I’ll wrap things up with some closing thoughts, conclusions, and some of the pitfalls and shortcomings of this kind of research. I’d love to know if you got anything out of these maps; if they helped you think about things in a different light, or even better understand the team or the sport as a whole.