Orlando City was 11-27-13 under James O’Connor. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
James O’Connor became the first Major League Soccer head coach to get the axe Monday as he was fired by Orlando City SC.
Orlando City finished 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 9-15-10 mark and 37 points.
The club was one of three teams that were underwater in home (6-8-3) and away (3-7-7) records. FC Cincinnati and Vancouver Whitecaps were the others.
City will begin its search for its fourth head coach as it heads into its sixth MLS season.
“On behalf of Orlando City we want to thank James for all of his efforts during his coaching tenure at Orlando,” Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a statement. “We wish James the best of luck in the next phase of his coaching career.”
O’Connor joined Orlando City midway through the 2018 season June 29. Under O’Connor, the Lions finished that campaign with 2-12-3 in MLS competition while taking 11th place in the conference.
Orlando City had an 11-27-13 record in MLS games under O’Connor.
City was routed by the Chicago Fire in its season finale at Exploria Stadium Sunday, 5-2.
“Obviously very disappointing finish to the season,” Connor said during a post-game press conference. “I think obviously today we knew it was going to be difficult, we were missing Lamine [Sané], obviously got a sickness through the week and then Robin [Jansson] obviously going off injured. I think when that happens, you’ve got your two first choice center backs that are out, especially for how those two have done throughout the course of the year. I think both of them have been exceptional this year. I think even despite conceding all those goals, I think those two have had a really good year, but it’s just a really bitter way to finish the season.”
When asked about Orlando City’s season, O’Connor replied: “I think when you look at the start of the year, I think the positivity that we had, I think the middle part of the year we handled the summer months really well. I think we put ourselves in a great position. I’ve heard from a load of the supporters about we felt this year was our chance and this year we felt like we had a genuine effort to try and get into the playoffs.
“I think the finish has probably disappointed all of us I think when you look at it. We set defensive records this year, which when we first came here that was the glaring thing for us is that we looked at the way we were defending as a team. I think that was the biggest thing that we needed to try to change this year. Barring today I think we’ve been a lot harder to play against this year. We’ve probably set a record for goals against in the league despite conceding so many goals even today.”
“I think the biggest thing is we’ve given ourselves a strong foundation to move on in the offseason with the amount of money that’s going to become available.”