Two of the City of Orlando’s three professional soccer teams are currently above the red line in the race for the playoffs — OCB and the Pride, with Orlando City five points out.
The Pride are currently on a three-game winning streak that has propelled them into the final playoff spot, but only won five of their first 16 games. OCB’s current 10-game unbeaten streak is the longest in club history, but, thanks to points dropped early in the year, the young Lions are just one point ahead of the red line. As for the Lions, things started out great, with Orlando City winning six of its first seven games, but since then have only won twice.
Should all three teams fail to make the playoffs, Tom Sermanni, Jason Kreis, and Anthony Pulis, head coaches of the Pride, Orlando City, and OCB, respectively, will still be in a job for next season. And here’s why:
Anthony Pulis, Orlando City B
For Pulis’ defense, all that needs to be said is names. Pierre Da Silva. Hadji Barry. Tony Rocha. Richie Laryea. Earl Edwards Jr. Mikey Ambrose. Leo Pereira.
These are all players that have worked under Pulis and have won an MLS contract; are earning MLS minutes; or are on the verge of making the jump into MLS. Seven players in two years is a job well job for the developmental side coach. Playoffs are not the goal for OCB. Developing talent to MLS caliber is and Pulis has proven he is the right man for that job. And he’s the only coach in the organization to lead one of the club’s three teams to the postseason so far, which he did last season.
The only thing that Orlando City has to worry about with its reserve side coach is someone hiring Pulis away.
Jason Kreis, Orlando City
There are some fans that want Kreis out of Orlando, but that would be a huge mistake. Kreis was hired in the middle of last season, inheriting someone else’s roster — warts and all — and he needs time to develop a side. It is true that this year’s results have been poor, and Kreis will be the first to admit it. However, if a team does not have the players to fit the vision and direction of the coach, it does not matter who the coach is.
The attack is not scoring, the midfield is not connecting passes, and, although improved overall defensively, back line players have been ball watching and too slow to react at times. The overhaul started in the off-season with additions like Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter. Dom Dwyer and Yoshimar Yotun are key mid-season additions to help the Lions moving forward, and expect more roster changes this winter. Kreis needs at least one more year before any decision about his long-term future in Orlando is decided upon, and it looks like the club is putting the pieces together for Orlando City to finally make a playoff push, albeit in 2018.
To fire Kreis would be to start the process over — likely with a coach that prefers a different formation or tactics — which would undo months of patient roster construction by General Manager Niki Budalic.
Tom Sermanni, Orlando Pride
If the Pride do not make the playoffs it will be a disappointment, but Sermanni’s side is currently playing like one of the best teams in the league. The Pride made two big signings in Ali Krieger and Marta, and traded prospect Sam Witteman away to add Alanna Kennedy. The addition of young star in the making Camila was an added bonus.
When any team improves the roster like that, it is playoffs or bust. However, it takes time for star players to gain chemistry with each other and the Pride have just figured that out. They have scored 10 goals in the past three games. It took them eight games to match that feat to start the year. This team has gotten better and better as the season goes on, and next year should be the year the Pride are on top of the NWSL all season long. Firing Sermanni would ruin all momentum and chemistry gained from this season and it will be back to the drawing board.