No matter what you call it -- turmoil or transition -- you can't deny that it has been an eventful few weeks, called for or not.
Whether you agree with us here at TML that Orlando City could have achieved its goals in Year Two by simply staying the course, it's clear that last season came out of the kitchen a little under-cooked in the eyes, and proverbial mouths, of the powers that be in Central Florida. Two GMs are out the window in the span of two months, and a fan base is left with more questions than answers.
Is it too much of a stretch to think more significant changes will be in the works if Year Two begins pointing to a postseason-less direction? Let's take a look at some recent MLS expansion history for context: the 2012 Portland Timbers.
Like Orlando, Portland reached its MLS dream after years in the lower leagues of American soccer that saw the growth of a significant fan base. Like Orlando, Portland was the bubble team in its first season, missing the playoffs by seven points, only two points more than the Lions this year. Like Orlando, Portland had a well-liked coach with a high-level playing career in England and elsewhere. While not exactly a guarantee akin to the one Merritt Paulson made in advance of the 2012 season, Phil Rawlins has now made allusions to the fact that missing the playoffs is a form of failure.
That's about where the comparisons end. Orlando has yet to have its Kris Boyd moment by signing a high-priced player who doesn't pan out (though signing a new DP isn't out of the discussion). I'm not saying Rawlins is anything at all like the mercurial Paulson, who fancies himself a soccer George Steinbrenner, and I'm not saying there is anything but harmony between Rawlins and Adrian Heath.
Going by that example, though, maybe a little change can lead to a better place in years to come. The Timbers just won the MLS Cup, after all.
Is Heath on the hot seat? No, and he shouldn't be. His relationship with the club runs too deep and I don't think there is any question about his standing in City's future plans. All I am saying that that his bathwater has gotten just a tad warmer over the last month or so, and it's at least warm enough now to warrant headlines that imply he needs backing.
If there's one lesson to be taken from this month of "transition," it's that if Rawlins et al are unsatisfied in any way, they are willing to put their money where it counts and take responsibility. Recent history has shown us that this is a good thing.