clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Our City: In Defense of Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath

New, 19 comments

Things have not been going well for our Orlando City Lions on the field lately. Some pockets of the Orlando City support believe the problems lie with coach Adrian Heath and his dismissal would be the first step in turning this inaugural season around. Like the majority of the Orlando faithful, I think these calls lack a fundamental vision of what this club's long-term goals are.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Our City is a weekly column dedicated to the fans and supporters' perspectives of Orlando City. Any feedback, comments, or questions? Find Kevin Mercer on Twitter @KevinIsHistory

With lopsided losses piling up and the hopes of playoff soccer fading for Orlando City, pressure has mounted for Head Coach Adrian Heath. While the former Everton striker remains popular with most of the supporters, some pockets of vocal fans have begun to call for the manager's firing.

It's common during a long losing streak or a tough season for supporters to look for a coach's dismissal in an effort to shake things up and attempt to reboot the club, the season, and hopefully their chances. As the buck stops with the manager, this thinking is certainly not far-fetched.

While none of us like to see our Lions getting multiple shellackings in a row, the situation in Orlando is not easily fixed. Expansion teams in all sports have their first season challenges. Orlando's desire to make the playoffs was in itself a tall order, as only a few expansion clubs have ever qualified for postseason play. In many ways, this season has gone exactly as most MLS experts outside of Orlando had predicted it would.

Generally, players need a season to fully adjust to new leagues, new teams, and new cultures. Bringing one player into a team with established chemistry is a challenge. Compound that with an entirely new club coming together all at once. These things take time.

It takes time to build trusting relationships between players and coaches, between the players and each other, and for players to adjust to new roles. Again, multiplied by an entire new roster of players. Even the former USL players, who've had the advantage of knowing the club, its coaches, and Central Florida, are still having to adjust to the level of play in MLS.

Put simply, as Orlando City set sail on this maiden voyage into its inaugural campaign, the waters have been rougher than many of us had expected them to be. There is some frustration around the players, the supporters, and the front office. Adrian Heath is the captain this ship needs to guide us through these times. If you thought it was going to be a season of confetti and trophies, you should spend more time understanding how competitive MLS is and less time calling for Heath's dismissal.

With all of that said, Heath has to be held accountable on some level for a team that seems to be playing with none of the fire and passion that was a trademark during four successful USL campaigns. As disappointing loss after disappointing loss seems to stack up, I'm still waiting for the firebrand post-game press conference that was such a staple in the past.

Heath's bosses have yet to give him the public "vote of confidence" that can so often be the kiss of death in professional soccer. This would seem to mean the manager's job is safe for this season. This off-season will be crucial for Heath to find the right players to fulfill his vision for Orlando City as an MLS club.

Something is not working; we can all see that from the stands. Calling for Heath's head on a platter is counter-intuitive to the long-term goals Orlando City has. Those goals are rooted in Heath's vision. He needs more time to see that vision through.