As originally reported on Twitter last night, Anthony Pulis is leaving Orlando City B to become the head coach for another USL team — Saint Louis FC. He becomes the franchise’s fourth head coach (third full-time) since its inception, following Dale Schilly (2015-2016), Tim Leonard (Interim, 2016), and Preki (2017).
Pulis has been a Lion since 2012. He was a player coach during the USL days, and retired after the 2014 season to become a coach. He started as an academy coach for Orlando City and then took the reins of Orlando City B. After two seasons managing the young Lions, Pulis is now making a move to take the same position with Saint Louis FC.
“Ant has been a part of the Orlando City family for many years, both as a coach and a player, so it is difficult to see him go,” Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao said in a club press release. “On behalf of everyone at the club, I want to thank Ant for all that he has helped Orlando City accomplish over the last six years. We wish him nothing but the best of luck in this next step of his career.”
In moving to Saint Louis FC, Pulis replaces Preki, who officially left the midwestern club yesterday.
Saint Louis officially named Pulis as its new head coach this evening.
During his time as a player coach with Orlando City, Pulis played 44 USL games from 2012-2014, scoring four times and winning one USL Pro championship and two Commissioner's Cups. Once he became the head coach of OCB, Pulis showed his quality in both fielding a competitive team and developing players for the MLS squad. He can be credited with the development of such players as Pierre Da Silva, Richie Laryea, and Hadji Barry. He also helped develop Tony Rocha and Mikey Ambrose, both players who are now on MLS contracts. Leo Pereira also made the jump to MLS from the USL after playing for Pulis.
Pulis’s job was complicated, having to work with an ever-changing roster of players with those being sent up to the MLS squad, and those coming down for playing time — something he won’t have to deal with nearly as much with Saint Louis FC. The club was previously affiliated with the Chicago Fire but that wasn’t renewed for the 2017 season.
Despite working with a revolving door of lineups, Pulis still posted a 9-13-8 record in 2016, and a 10-10-13 record in 2017, reaching the playoffs in the club’s first year in the USL. While some might complain that OCB failed to make the playoffs this past season, anyone who was paying attention knew the challenges a development squad faces while also trying to compete. Despite missing the postseason in Year 2, Pulis led the young Lions to a 12-game unbeaten run in 2017.
Orlando City will now have to focus on Pulis’ replacement. One prominent name who could be a candidate is former Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar, who served as an assistant at RSL under Jason Kreis from 2007-2013. He ascended to head coach of the Utah club in 2014, going 38-37-30 in 105 games before being fired early in the 2017 season.
OCB Assistant Coach Rob Valentino would be another excellent candidate, as would Lewis Neal, who served as a player-coach for OCB over the last two seasons.