Networking Lions: Mapping The Clubs Who Have Trained Orlando City Part One

 In Mapping, Research

I’ve been playing with maps again! Actually, I have a couple in various states of completion, including a massive one that I am very excited about. When this thought of another way to visualize how players have found their way to Orlando City, I  put those to the side for a moment and started on this one. What can I say, I’m a home teamer sometimes.

You might remember the Orlando City player birthplace map I did awhile ago. The premise behind that map was to get an idea of how Orlando City had constructed their roster since 2011, including both USL and MLS teams. I liked it, mostly. What I wanted to accomplish generally teased out, despite some flaws. In a modern mobile world, a person’s birthplace doesn’t always tell a lot about where they are actually from.

Today I’ll start what will be a three part series on a new mapping experiment. Forgive me for drawing it out a bit, but I think it might be an easier (and shorter) read this way.

So the plan this time is to map out where players have played before they came to Orlando City. Development teams, youth systems, college teams, and of course clubs around the world.

Today I want to post the heat maps to give a general view, from 10,000 feet as they say. This view demonstrates the regions as “heated” areas that have trained the players that have found their way into the Orlando City roster during their first two MLS seasons and the roster for the 2017 season as of February 7, 2017.


The world map gives a general view, and nothing altogether surprising. Orlando City has pulled players from the United States and Europe mostly, with the Caribbean, Central America and South America adding players to the ranks. The only big surprise on this map is the lack of African players. I say surprising because during Orlando’s USL days, then coach Adrian Heath made at least one scouting trip to Africa and long-term scouting network connections were hinted at. Those seem to have not panned out, yet.

Now for some close-ups!


The North America map is interesting, if only that it shows us that players to make the Orlando City roster have come played for clubs around the country. The concentrations in Southern California and the Northeast are to be expected as they are population centers and soccer hotbeds. A nice spread of clubs in Florida is a promising sign that the club has signed talent from local clubs. Incidentally, this map does not include Orlando City B or the Orlando City USL team.


The Europe map is interesting. The high representation in the United Kingdom shows the club’s relationships with teams there. This map also shows the level of experience coming from Europe. While the club has a number of young European players, many are well traveled veterans of the European leagues. Older players across the board played for more clubs, adding multiple data points. For example, the vaguely orange cloud hanging over Switzerland comes from one player, Adrian Winter. In his time in Switzerland he played for four teams before his time in Orlando.


If the South America map has any one shocking revelation, it is the lack of intensity in Brazil. While the club’s UK links have seen numerous players traveling across the Atlantic to wear the purple, Brazilian ownership and star-player power hasn’t led to a pipeline of “joga bonito” into Central Florida (yet). The heat map intensity over the River Plate surprised me a little

I hope you enjoyed this 10,000 foot view. Tomorrow I’ll post the detailed map and the link to the interactive map. The day after that I will post some overall conclusions and issues.

Here is Part Two.

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