A whirlwind off-season continues for the Orlando City front office on this Monday morning following the holiday break, as the Orlando City SC Board of Directors announced Armando Carneiro has stepped down as Chief Soccer Officer, citing personal reasons. Lions Founder and President Phil Rawlins will manage all soccer related activities for the next several months, working closely with the club's three head coaches, while a new leader of soccer operations is recruited.
"We fully understand Armando's personal reasons for stepping down from his role and respect his wishes. We thank him for his help and wish him luck with his future career," said Rawlins. "Our focus in the next few weeks will be on the upcoming drafts, finalizing our rosters and putting together a successful preseason that will properly prepare all three teams to kick off their 2016 campaigns. Our goal for the coming year is nothing less than reaching playoffs with both the Lions and Pride, and we are keenly focused on achieving that goal for our fans and our Club."
Carneiro was a headline hire for the Lions' front office on Nov. 3, with a growing international reputation following a six-year project in building Portuguese side Benfica back into a power that had the likes of Manchester City inquiring about his services.
His hire was not met without concern, however, and minor fan protests sprung up following the departures of longtime Lions GM Paul McDonough and assistant coach (and former player/coach) Ian Fuller. Some fans pinned the blame for these actions solely on Carneiro's shoulders.
While we obviously wish the best for Carneiro and hope this move isn't due to a health related issue, the abrupt departure of the well-respected front office man, who rose to prominence with one of Europe's most storied clubs, leaves the Lions in a bind as the important off-season events continue to barrel down on a front office staff that is noticeably thinner than it was just one month ago. The MLS SuperDraft takes place Jan. 14 (Orlando picks seventh), with the transfer window opening right behind it. In 2015, the league's primary transfer window took place from Feb. 18 - May 12, but the 2016 dates have not yet been announced.
Now that Phil Rawlins has assumed Carneiro's duties pending the recruitment of a new Chief Soccer Officer, his New Year's resolution is clear -- to construct the three team rosters (Orlando City, Orlando Pride and OCB) he had hired Carneiro to build.