Luzunaris signs with Orlando City
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 17:01
The journey back to playing soccer in Florida has not been a long one for former Knight Matt Luzunaris, but one with frequent stops. Luzunaris signed with Orlando City Soccer Club in December after playing internationally out of college and then in the MLS.
Luzunaris will be rejoining Orlando City after playing for the club on loan last season, scoring two goals in three games. Luzunaris cites his experience playing with the team and the opportunity for playing to time as reasons for his return.
"It was a great experience for me. My first game I came out here and scored a goal. Fortunately, I got to play against Newcastle and score a goal against Bolton," Luzunaris said. "No matter what position you play, [every player] wants to play and Orlando City was giving me that opportunity. I think my experience for those few weeks says a lot about the club and the owners and the coaches. They really make this club look great. They know what this club needs right now."
After playing at UCF, Luzunaris played internationally in Austria and trained with clubs in Brazil and England before returning to the states to play in the MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Luzunaris' time abroad provided him with great experiences on and off the field.
"It was a great experience [in Austria], not only on the soccer field but for just life in general," Luzunaris said. "I really like the lifestyle there. I made some really good friends that will be friends for life and will be at my wedding and will be there for all of those kinds of things. It was a really great opportunity, and I highly advise people to take the chance if they have that opportunity."
Luzunaris also cites his year of playing at UCF as a contributor to his development.
"I think that it obviously showed me a different level than what I was used to. You were playing for a lot more than just a state cup or a league cup [at UCF]. I think experiencing that level of play was another stepping stone in my career to get me to where I'm at now."
Orlando City has been a hot topic of discussion for possible MLS expansion. Luzunaris has MLS experience and thinks his new club measures up well.
"Every level I've played on, Orlando City has that [to offer] and even better than what some clubs have to offer," Luzunaris said. "I think right now we're climbing to the top, and there's no reason we shouldn't be in the MLS. Skill wise we have what it takes, and front office and organization wise have what it takes."
Orlando City won the United Soccer League championship last season, something Luzunaris hopes can happen again.
"Orlando City is, from what I've seen, the best team in the league. Putting the championship aside, I think the style of play that this team plays and what [coach Adrian Heath] teaches us is a whole other level. If people can start grasping that, we can go a long way with it," Luzunaris said. "We really need to work at it, but I think we really have the pieces to repeat."