Major League Soccer is a uniquely difficult league to play in. You hear something along those lines all the time from anyone and everyone involved, players and coaches alike. It's physical, the travel is brutal, the summertime heat in places like Houston, LA and Orlando is sweltering, the artificial turf in some of the league's stadiums is unforgiving on players' legs and difficult to play on because the ball bounces unpredictably off it,
the referees are terrible, the list goes on and on. MLS Supporters and apologists hail it as something that makes the league great in the larger global soccer landscape.
Adrian Heath knows all of these common observations. They are themes in discussion about the league, and they were themes in a 2014 interview Heath had with Simon Borg of mlssoccer.com.
"What we do realize is that we're going to have to put some battle-hardened MLS people around them," Heath said of Orlando's young players. "It's a very unique league -- with the travel and everything that comes -- and we think it's important now that we start to put people that know what's coming.
"I think most importantly ... experience is really important for this league."
It's important to remember when looking back at year one of the Orlando City MLS experience that this wasn't just the club's first rodeo, it was also Inchy's first go around in the league. While coaching in USL certainly helped him conquer some of the "unique" difficulties of MLS (the travel, weather, turf) it certainly wasn't a carbon copy of this league, and there were just as certainly very many learning moments in year one for Heath and his coaching staff.
We are 18 days from the beginning of the second season in Orlando City's MLS history and, consequently, we are also 18 days from seeing what year two of Adrian Heath's MLS coaching career.
In the 20 years of MLS history, there have been 64 coaches to get a chance at a second year in coaching. Of those coaches, there were five Coach of the Year winners, three MLS Cup Championships, one MLS Cup runner-up and eight Supporters' Shield winners. They combined for 36 playoff appearances and 724 wins, which is good for an average of 11.32 victories each. Their average finish in the overall league standings was 7.79.
On the other side of the coin, 15 coaches either were fired or resigned, including 12 who were fired in the middle of their second campaigns.
Some of these numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. In the first 10 years of the league's existence, eight teams made the playoffs every season despite the fact that the league only consisted of 10 to 12 teams over that span. In 2002, the entire Western Conference made the postseason. Things have changed since then. Certainly as a result of expansion, 12 of the 15 firings of second-year coaches have come since 2008.
What will Adrian Heath's second season as a head coach in Major League Soccer hold? We're only 18 days from finding out.