Like many of you, I greeted the news that Jason Kreis and Orlando City had “mutually agreed to part ways” Friday afternoon with shock but not surprise. It was simultaneously a move many people felt was looming, and a jolt of reality for Orlando City supporters.
I’d been patient with the Kreis rebuild for the most part, although it felt more painful to watch at times than I’d expected it to. I liked the pick-ups in the off-season and felt the club, despite a rough road much of this season was on the right trajectory. Watching the Montreal game, a must-win against a beatable team changed my mind.
It was hard for me to admit, watching a passionless and out of sync team, that the Kreis master plan was in absolute tatters. I believed in Kreis until the last. Many of you have argued that I’m about a year too late in this realization. I’m now inclined to think you were right.
As the news and views of this biggest of front office moves has bounced around the Orlando City media biosphere in the past few days a lot of passion and promise has led the conversations. It has been suggested that much of what happened and what happens next will be signals of the intentions of Alex Leitão and the front office. If Kreis didn’t have the master plan, does Leitão?
While pondering everything that has transpired, I asked another question. What does my enduring support for Jason Kreis say about me? If Kreis is an MLS 1.0 player and an MLS 2.0 coach trying to fit into an MLS 3.0 world, does my impassioned defense of tactics that never worked mean that I’m not seeing the game or the league in the right modern light? Am I an MLS 2.0 supporter? That answer is what I thought about for the rest of my workout Saturday morning.
The truth is, the league is changing quickly. The universal truths that I understood when I first accepted a chance to write about the league and Orlando City for The Mane Land are quickly fading into the past with a better and bolder league breaking into the present.
The best example of my misreading the changes in the league are our “friends” to the North, Atlanta United. Every column I wrote about their entry into the league was filled with the standard MLS 2.0 truths about parity and foreign coaches struggling to make sense of the American game. Everything they have done as a team in the past season and a half has proven just how little I understand the league right now.
They haven’t struggled, they haven’t lost heartbreaking matches, or even experienced much of the cruel luck of parity. It’s safe to say their foreign coach never worried about how to coach in MLS and just did what he did best. The Atlanta front office read the changing landscape of the league to perfection and became the model of MLS 3.0.
I’m not writing this to be self-deprecating or to celebrate a team I honestly loathe, but more to suggest that the league is changing and Orlando City hasn’t yet. We seemed to come into the league sold on building a team under both Heath and Kreis that may have competed in an early 2000s version of the league, but not a team with any hope of keeping up with the Toronto’s and NYCFCs, and now the Atlanta’s and LAFC’s of the league.
As it was yesterday, and will be tomorrow, my heart and my loyalty are fully behind the club. I’ll be in the stands on June 23 when the Lions take on Montreal again. I’ll be there knowing we are entering into uncharted territory for the club, even if there are a few examples of how to tread the path to the top.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
― Sun Tzu