I just don't really get it.
Orlando City has played through its first nine games this season with just two losses, sits four points out of first place in the Eastern Conference after Friday's draw against the New York Red Bulls, in which for the first time this season the Lions had their entire first choice starting lineup on the field.
Even with all things considered, it's hard to not find myself stumbling into comments after games calling for Adrian Heath to lose his job as Orlando City's head coach.
Last season, the club navigated a tough expansion season that was plagued with injuries, suspensions, and international call-ups, and Orlando City still managed to miss out on the playoffs by just five points. All things considered, that was a pretty decent accomplishment when you add in that expansion teams have a track record for almost never making the playoffs in their first season.
Now we're in Year 2, and the patience for this club -- with a roster filled with mostly young players -- has vanished among a segment of the fan base.
At this point last season, Orlando City was sitting with nine points through its first nine games (2-4-3). Currently, through nine games this season, the Lions are on 11 points (2-2-5). The difference isn't huge, but there's clearly progress being made on some levels. The team is grinding out points in games they otherwise would have lost last year, and there's also a pretty compelling argument to be made that without some terrible calls made in the other team's favor, the Lions could be sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference right now -- not that poor play in some other competitions isn't at fault here, either.
The fact of the matter is that there's no reasonable excuse to be asking for the head coach of this team to be fired nine games through the season, and the complaints against him are more personal preference than pure failure.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all saying that Heath is the best coach in league, or the most qualified man for the job, or even unfireable because of his long-standing ties to the club. But a coach should be judged by his team's performance in the wins and losses column over the course of the season and whether or not he can actually get this team into the playoffs or perhaps even to win a championship -- which after nine games, is still very possible -- and not because you think he should have made a sub earlier in the game. Compared to last season, the results have been better.
We're sitting here talking about a team and a coach in Major League Soccer, where the two teams in the MLS Cup Final last year wouldn't qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today -- and one of those teams, the Columbus Crew, are in disarray right now. The New York Red Bulls, who were the best team in the regular season last year, lost six of their first seven games to start this season; and Sporting KC, who many pick as a playoff team heading into the season are winless in their last six games as they prepare to host Orlando City this season. Anything can happen in this league.
So there are teams with much worse problems than Orlando City is facing right now.
The point is that anything can happen over the course of the next 25 games, and calling for Heath's head now is extremely premature.
If, at the end of the season, we're sitting here again talking about how Orlando City was this close to making the playoffs but came up short for a second straight year, then there's probably going to be some actual room to talk, but for now Heath's firing is just not that justifiable.