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Roma to play friendly in Orlando

Orlando City founder and president Phil Rawlins shares his excitement as Florida now has an MLS franchise.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Italian league powerhouse AS Roma is returning to Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando for a week of training and a friendly against Orlando City.

Roma will be stateside next month, training at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from May 22-25, and will play Orlando City on Friday, May 23.

Labidou: MLS expansion challenges

Orlando City, currently in the United Soccer League, will field a Major League Soccer expansion team next season.

Roma signed a multi-year agreement in March 2012 to become the official professional football club of Disney's sports complex.

"It's always a thrill for the youth athletes and coaches competing and training at our sports complex when AS Roma is here," said Disney Sports' director of sports development Mike Millay. "Having world-class soccer teams, prestigious youth soccer events and creating unique soccer experiences are part of what makes our sports complex one of the premier youth soccer venues in the country."

Roma, which played summer matches in the United States the last two years, also will face Liverpool FC at Fenway Park (July 23) before competing in the loaded Guinness International Champions Cup. Roma will play Manchester United (July 26 in Denver), Real Madrid (July 29 in Dallas) and F.C. Inter (August 2 in Philadelphia). The final is Aug. 4 in Miami.

Roma's presence near Orlando coincides with the annual Disney Memorial Day Shootout, which is the largest three-day soccer tournament in the United States. The shootout attracted more than 600 teams last year, consisting of more than 1,000 matches and 7,200 participants.

"Our partnership with Disney is an important part of our efforts to connect with young fans worldwide," Roma CEO Italo Zanzi said. "We look forward to hosting fans, particularly the Disney Memorial Day Shootout players, at our training and for an exciting match versus Orlando City."

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