On July 31, 2016, the Jason Kreis era at Orlando City officially began with a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. It was an up and down ride after that promising beginning, but how did the team fare after the new skipper took over?
By the Numbers
To keep things simple, we’re going to refer to everything before Kreis’s first game as “BK” (before Kreis), and everything from his first game on as “AK” (after Kreis).
Overall Record: 4-5-11 BK, 5-6-3 AK
Home Record: 3-0-7 BK, 3-4-0 AK
Away Record: 1-5-4 BK, 2-2-3 AK
As we can see, Orlando City earned 23 points in 20 games for a 1.15 points per game average BK. AK the team earned 18 points in 14 games for a 1.29 points per game average. Despite the team not performing as well at home, the away performances helped the team to an overall better performance.
Overall Goals For/Goals Against: 32/35 BK, 23/25 AK
Home Goals For/Goals Against: 19/14 BK, 12/14 AK
Away Goals For/Goals Against: 13/21 BK, 11/11 AK
Here again we see the difference in the home results. Even though overall the team was slightly better once Kreis took over (.92 goals/game AK versus .91 goals/game BK), at home they were much worse (.86 goals/game AK versus 1.36 goals/game BK). When away, Orlando City was better (1.00 goals/game versus .62 goals/game), however it wasn’t enough to overcome the home losses.
What Does it All Mean?
There are many factors that affected the start of the Kreis era. He came in part way through the season, replacing a coach that was popular with the fanbase, and who had been with the team since the beginning. That being said, the product on the field wasn’t developing the way most hoped, and thus Kreis was brought in to fix that. However, the timing means that Kreis inherited the players and some of the staff. He started making adjustments from day one, but it takes time for players to learn new systems, and what the new boss expects. We saw some of what Kreis wants during the transfer window with the additions of Mikey Ambrose, Tony Rocha, and Matias Perez Garcia. Perez Garcia was a particular bright spot at the top of the midfield. As the Orlando Sentinel first reported:
“Our club is very excited about bringing Matías into our camp," Lions coach Jason Kreis said. "He has played at a very high level and has demonstrated his skill since joining MLS. Matías fits in nicely with our tactics and shape and will bolster our attack."
When Kreis talks about the shape in regards to Perez Garcia, we see the direction he wants to go. He initially wasn’t able to change the 4-2-3-1 formation Orlando City had been employing under Adrian Heath, and it might be that he didn’t want to risk team dynamics, or didn’t have all the necessary players, but that’s what the off-season will hopefully address. We can see that despite not having the players of his choosing, the 4-4-2 he is fond of is most likely the direction he will take Orlando City. The other problem he is attempting to address, is the back line. The addition of Jose Aja was the first of what is thought to be more changes in the defense.
Despite the disappointment of not making the playoffs, fans need to have patience as Kreis implements his system. The months ahead will provide a better picture as he brings in new pieces, and shapes the mentality of the team for next season. Kreis is one of the best coaches in MLS, and we’ve got him. I for one am excited about the possibilities.