Orlando City made a decision this season to move away from one coach this season and transition to another. That’s never an easy thing, and it is certainly one factor in why the Lions didn’t make the playoffs. Would they have made it with Adrian Heath still at the helm? That’s an impossible question to answer, but what we can do is take a look at another recent mid-season coaching change under similar circumstances. Let’s compare Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp with Orlando City’s Jason Kreis.
Last season, Liverpool F.C. decided to part ways with Brendan Rodgers during the EPL season. They brought in the highly touted Jurgen Klopp from Borussia Dortmund. Klopp took over in 2008, and led that club to Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. Liverpool is a storied club that was struggling recently and needed a change. They got their man Klopp only a few weeks into the 2015 season.
This season, Orlando City decided to part ways with long-time coach Adrian Heath. Like Liverpool, Orlando City was not performing up to what the front office wanted. They got their man Jason Kreis and brought him in to finish the season with the hopes of making the MLS playoffs.
Klopp’s first game with Liverpool resulted in a 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. His first Premier league win was in his third game -- a 3-1 win against Chelsea. Despite not having the exact personnel that he would want, Klopp managed to get Liverpool to the League Cup finals where the Reds lost 3-1 on penalties to Manchester City. Their disappointment didn’t stop there, as they also lost the UEFA Cup Final to Sevilla, 3-1.
Jason Kreis took over at Orlando City on July 19, 2016. On July 23, he managed the Lions to a 2-2 draw in his first game. It was in his third game that Kreis would get his first win as the Orlando City skipper, in a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. Despite not having the exact personnel that he would want, Kreis seemed to get off to a good start with Orlando City with a 3-3-3 record in his first nine games. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there, and the Lions were eliminated from playoff contention.
Through the first seven games of his first full season as the Liverpool manager, Klopp has the Reds in fourth place with a 5-1-1 record. They’ve scored 18 goals in that time, and some of their wins have been very impressive. They defeated defending champs Leicester City, 4-1, and perennial contender Chelsea, 2-1. They are currently one place below Arsenal, but started the season with a 4-3 win over the Gunners. Klopp has the team, fans, and the opposition believing that Liverpool is for real this season.
As disappointed as we are that the Lions didn’t make the playoffs, it does mean that Kreis will have more time to get the team turned around before next season. There are personnel issues, a new system to implement, and on the field leadership to be found. Will Kreis be able to mirror Klopp’s success? Like Klopp, Kreis has a proven track record as a manager, and he has the support of the front office. There will be plenty to keep an eye on this off-season, as Kreis goes about making Orlando City his team.