Orlando City announced this afternoon that Daniel Byrd will join the club as assistant coach and Thabane Sutu as goalkeeper coach. Both coaches have assisted new Lions Head Coach James O’Connor since 2015. Byrd’s hiring has been known for a week, with the club making the formal announcement today along with that of Sutu, who replaces Tim Mulqueen.
“Daniel and Thabane were obvious fits for the technical staff, not just because they worked well with James, but because they also had a lot of success at Louisville,” Orlando City General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “That’s been a primary focus as we prepare for the second half of the season and beyond. We’re very excited for Daniel and Thabane to join us.”
O’Connor, a former Orlando City midfielder, was announced as Orlando City’s new head coach on June 29 following the firing of Jason Kreis and assistant coaches CJ Brown and Miles Joseph. During his introductory press conference, it was announced that assistant coach Bobby Murphy and Mulqueen would also not continue with the first team.
When O’Connor was named the head coach of new USL club Louisville City FC in 2014, he brought Byrd, who had been coaching for Orlando City Youth Soccer. O’Connor’s right-hand man grew up in Zambia and Mozambique with his missionary family before playing at Johnson University in Tennessee from 2000 to 2004. Prior to joining Orlando City, Byrd played professionally for the USL’s Cleveland City Stars and coached college soccer at St. Catherine in Springfield, KY.
Sutu grew up in Lesotho, a kingdom in southern Africa, captaining the national team from 1994 to 1997. During that time, he played in Egypt, winning three straight league titles between 1994 and 1996 and an Arab League title in 1995. Starting in 2001, Sutu served as technical director of United 1996 Futbol Club, a youth soccer club in Louisville. He joined O’Connor and Byrd in his adopted hometown for Louisville City’s inaugural 2015 USL season.
Under Sutu, goalkeeper Scott Goodwin posted a 1.19 goals against average in Louisville City’s inaugural season. Goodwin’s successor, Greg Ranjitsingh, went five straight games without allowing a goal in his rookie year. Ranjitsingh went on to train with Trinidad and Tobago during World Cup qualifiers last fall and has kept five clean sheets in 2018. He tied for second in the USL last year, with 11 clean sheets.
O’Connor, Byrd, and Sutu have seen great success together in Louisville, making three consecutive trips to the USL’s Eastern Conference final. They fell to the league’s top team in their first two seasons in charge before winning the 2017 USL Cup. They also led LCFC to the quarterfinals of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup prior to taking jobs with Orlando City.
The first game in charge for O’Connor, Byrd, and Sutu will take place tomorrow night when the Lions travel west to take on Los Angeles FC. The match time has been moved back to 11 p.m. ET to avoid temperatures expected to be in triple digits.