James O’Connor and Orlando City are sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with one match to go. If the Lions win that match they could potentially move all the way up to eighth place. It’s certainly not where anyone hoped the club would be, despite being in rebuild mode.
As such, there is speculation regarding whether or not O’Connor will still be with the club after the final match of the season. Indeed, Michael Citro and I discussed it a little bit on this week’s episode of The Mane Land PawedCast, and I wanted to get the opinions of our readers on the matter. Let’s look at the arguments for and against.
The Case For O’Connor
Despite what the standings show there has been improvement this season. While the defense hasn’t been quite as sharp down the stretch, it has been immensely better than the club that gave up 74 goals last season. A lot of that has to do with the personnel that has been brought in by Luiz Muzzi, but O’Connor needs to get his fair share of the credit as well.
There have also been glimpses of what he is wanting to do in the attack. The acquisitions of Nani and Mauricio Pereyra show the quality the team wants to employ. Unfortunately, the other younger, faster pieces are generally not there yet for O’Connor to fully implement his vision.
Orlando City hasn’t given a coach the necessary time to complete a roster build and put out a fully realized product to compete. We’ve seen what Adrian Heath was able to do with three years up in Minnesota. Jason Kreis wasn’t given the opportunity to finish his experiment either. The front office should learn the lesson that it either takes time and money or a whole lot of money. They haven’t been willing or able to spend a whole lot of money (relatively speaking), and need to give O’Connor the time to finish his recipe once the team is out from under some heavy contracts.
The Case Against O’Connor
Seven straight winless matches with a potential playoff berth on the line. Some of that falls on the players, but some must also fall on the coach. There were at least four of those last seven that were winnable, and the Lions weren’t able to manage three points in any of them.
When Orlando City Stadium, now Exploria Stadium, was built it was meant to be a fortress for the Lions. This season, Orlando City is 6-7-3 at home. If the Lions can’t win the last match of the season against the Chicago Fire, they will have a losing home record. Once again, part of the blame lies with O’Connor.
Finally, Muzzi didn’t hire O’Connor. While I think they have worked fairly well together, if O’Connor isn’t Muzzi’s man, the club needs to move on about 24 hours after the last match. The rebuild isn’t complete, and another coach could still come in and finish it.
I think that O’Connor honestly loves this club. I think he is a good fit, and could indeed be the coach the team needs — with the right pieces. How much would you hate for him to get fired, go somewhere else and do what Inchy did (or better)? Yes he’s young, but that means he can potentially grow into a great MLS coach.
I want to know your thoughts below, and vote in the poll.
Should O’Connor stay, or should he go?
This poll is closed
O’Yeah he should stay!
O’No he should go!