Cologne - 1. FC Köln have the carnival season and a chance of revenge against local rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen to look forward to in the second half of the campaign, but survival is the remit for Peter Stöger's men.

With that in mind, Köln have made sure their preparations for the second half of the season are undertaken in optimal conditions by planning their mid-season training break in the warm and sunny climes of Orlando, Florida.

First time stateside


Last season, Köln chose Belek, Turkey as the destination for their winter training camp. The Mediterranean resort will welcome six Bundesliga clubs this winter, but Köln will be preparing for the Bundesliga's restart much further afield.

Instead, Stöger and his team will stay in the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Hotel in central Florida where they will continue preparations for the second season-half, which begins with a trip to Hamburger SV on 31 January. Florida's climate and numerous beaches make it an ideal tourist resort, but while the Billy Goats will undoubtedly have opportunities to see the sights when they arrive on 8 January, they'll be hitting the training ground posthaste.

Two friendlies are planned for the duration of Köln's stay in the Sunshine State. As part of the 2015 Florida Cup, they will face Brazilian outfits SC Corinthians Paulista and Fluminense FC. Their closest neighbours at home - Bayer 04 Leverkusen - will also be competing, although the two Rhineland rivals will not play against one another.

'Ideal platform'

Ricardo Vilar, a Brazilian-native who made 10 top-flight appearances for 1. FC Kaiserslautern, currently plying their trade in the Bundesliga 2, was the brains behind the Florida Cup.

“The basic idea was to use the time at the training camp, where the clubs are working under highly professional conditions, to play high-quality friendlies,” explained Villar. “We are providing the best possible sporting infrastructure, and the format of the Florida Cup is an ideal platform.”

The Bundesliga's big-name clubs already have a strong standing stateside, but for Köln the mid-season tournament offers a chance to introduce fans to a true Traditionsverein. “We're delighted to be able to participate in what is a high-profile tournament,” said Köln sporting director Jörg Schmadtke. “It's a great incentive for 1. FC Köln to boost our profile in the USA.”

The players will train at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a 220-acre sports centre located in the Walt Disney World Resort, just ten minutes from their hotel. There they have their first Florida Cup game against Corinthians on 15 January, before taking on Fluminense in Jacksonville, two hours north, on 17 January.