Minnesota Vikings' Wilf family welcomed to Orlando soccer community

Emily Olsen
USA TODAY Sports Plus

Minnesota and Orlando don’t have much in common. 

One exception is the people who bleed purple.

Minnesota Vikings colors fused with Orlando City Soccer Club on Wednesday for an official Wilf family welcome.

“One thing you don’t even have to change is your wardrobe,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joked at the welcome ceremony.

After 17 years of running and expanding the Vikings up North, the Wilf family, led by Mark Wilf, are focusing further investment in Florida. The Wilfs acquired the majority ownership of Major League Soccer's Orlando City, the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League, Exploria Stadium and all related soccer assets from Brazilian businessman Flavio Augusto da Silva. The deal cost about $400-450 million, according to The Athletic and Sportico

The Wilf family previously had a minority stake in Nashville SC, which it dissolved before completing the purchase of the Orlando teams. 

“Part of what was attractive about the MLS opportunity and the NWSL opportunity was the fact that the level of ownership in terms of resources and capabilities is very impressive,” Orlando City SC Chairman Mark Wilf said.

MLS teams are no strangers to NFL ownership. 

“A lot of people have significant sports management experience,” Wilf said. “The Hunts and the Krafts, and a whole host of ownership already involved in soccer was a big part of what was attractive about this opportunity.”

The Wilfs will work on the transition with former Orlando City Chief Executive Officer Alex Leitão, who will serve as an advisor on the MLS side, and Pride Executive Vice President Amanda Duffy on the NWSL side. 

Wilf said the Pride were a major part of the family's interest in completing the acquisition. 

“It is a real avenue of opportunity," Wilf said. "It’s not going to be overnight, we recognize that. But if you see what our future generations are into, soccer is a big part of that, and it’s not just men’s soccer.” 

The Pride feature superstars such as Alex Morgan and Marta, but recently went through a massive midseason coaching change when Marc Skinner left the club in July to coach Manchester United in the Football Association Women’s Super League.

As the 2026 World Cup and 2028 Los Angeles Olympics get closer, other NFL families and players have capitalized on opportunities to invest in the sport as well. Here are some of the top NFL players and owners who have invested in MLS and NWSL.

The Hunt Family, Kansas City Chiefs Owners 

In this June 1, 1970, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt watches after holding the ball for his son, Clark, 5, to kick in the family backyard in Dallas.

Lamar Hunt, who died in 2006 at age 74, was instrumental in the growth of the NFL and soccer in America. In the late 1960s, Hunt controversially owned the Chiefs and the Dallas Tornado of the North American Soccer League. Despite pushback from the NFL, Hunt retained ownership of the Tornado and his team won the NASL championship in 1971. Hunt sold his ownership stake after the team merged with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 1980s.

Hunt then became a founding member of MLS, which began in 1996 after a successful 1994 World Cup in the United States. Hunt owned the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards (who later rebranded to Sporting Kansas City) until 2006.

While leading the Crew's front office, Hunt oversaw the construction of the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States. Hunt also backed FC Dallas, a team which Clark Hunt, his son, now runs as the chairman and CEO.

The U.S. Open Cup, the longest national soccer tournament in the United States, is now named after Lamar Hunt.

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback

Brittany Matthews, right, will be part of the ownership team for a new National Women's Soccer League team in Kansas City, Kan., which was awarded a franchise Monday. Matthews is the fiancee of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The NFL's highest paid player has also joined in on the action. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes invested in Sporting Kansas City earlier this year. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join Sporting Kansas City’s ownership team and strengthen my connection to the fans and the city I love,” Mahomes said. “Sporting is a community-oriented club and I am excited to continue supporting the growth of soccer in Kansas City.”

The Super Bowl MVP also owns part of the MLB Kansas City Royals and his fiancé, Brittany Matthews, a former professional soccer player, is co-owner of the NWSL team in Kansas City. 

Robert Kraft and family, New England Patriots Owner 

Owner of the new Major League Soccer team "New England Revolution", Robert Kraft, center, and his son Jonathan Kraft, left, hold up a new design for the team jersey as "Revolution" manager Brian O'Donovan, right, looks on at a news conference at Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., Tuesday, Oct. 17, 1995.

Another MLS founding member, Robert Kraft owns the New England Revolution, one of the league's original 10 clubs.

Despite competing in five MLS Cup finals, New England's soccer team has yet to capture a championship ring the way its football counterpart has ... six times.

Kraft also previously owned the San Jose clash (now the San Jose Earthquakes) from 1998-2000. In 2017, he was named honorary chairman of the board for the successful 2026 World Cup joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

"Uncle" Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons Owner

Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank, right, hands the trophy to team captain Michael Parkhurst (3) after the MLS Cup championship soccer game against the Portland Timbers, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Atlanta United won 2-0. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

You’re doing something right if your fanbase calls you "uncle," which is exactly what Atlanta United supporters call owner Arthur Blank.

Though it is home of the Atlanta Falcons (noted by the giant falcon statue outside), Mercedes-Benz Stadium also houses 2018 MLS Cup champion Atlanta United and holds all top-10 record spots for MLS attendance with more than 70,000 fans. 

Despite a sharp growth at the beginning of its time in MLS, Atlanta United has fallen on hard times. The team is in the bottom five for overall record during the 2021 season so far. Inaugural coach Tata Martino moved on two years ago. The team has hired and fired three coaches since and is currently operating under Interim Head Coach Rob Valentino. 

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback

Seattle Sounders part owners Russell Wilson and Ciara show their support for the team during their MLS Cup victory parade on November 12, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is part of an expansive MLSgroup led by majority owner Adrian Hanauer. 

"Seattle means so much to me and Ciara. We’re fired up about being part of the Sounders for a long, long time, having ownership in the Sounders and continuing to build that winning culture,” Wilson said. “We want to bring the best soccer players in the world right here to Seattle."

Wilson's wife and R&B superstar Ciara, rapper Macklemore and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also joined the investment group in 2019. That same year, Seattle won its second MLS Cup. 

Bonus: Mark Ingram II, Houston Texans Running Back 

Mark Ingram II joined D.C. United's ownership group and has been very vocal in support of his new club.