As we count down to the new year of 2020 — which will be Orlando City’s sixth in MLS, OCB’s second in USL League One, and the Orlando Pride’s fifth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2019, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year.
Once Orlando City failed to make the playoffs (or even come close), the writing was on the wall for James O’Connor. It may have been a forgone conclusion barring a deep run into the playoffs. We may never know, but O’Connor’s departure made way for our No. 6 Moment of 2019 — the hiring of Head Coach Óscar Pareja.
O’Connor was fired in early October, and Orlando City didn’t hire Pareja until nearly two months later on Dec. 4. During that time, Lions supporters knew they might have to wait for the MLS season to end before a new coach was named. When The Mane Land broke the news that Pareja had emerged as the leading candidate, it was the end of October. At that point, supporters knew that it might take a little bit longer, as Pareja’s Tijuana was still trying to make the playoffs in Liga MX. Once the Xolos missed the playoffs, things happened pretty quickly. Muzzi got what he wanted with Pareja.
“Óscar is the perfect fit for the Orlando City organization, something I can say with confidence from our history of working together,” Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in club press release. “He possesses the talent and passion to help our Club reach both its short term goals on the field and long-term plans for the organization. Óscar checked all the boxes we were looking to fill and his vision is aligned with the plans that we have as a club — to invest in and develop players at all levels of our pyramid to be both proud and successful when wearing the Orlando City crest.”
Pareja has a successful history in MLS, working with Muzzi, and even Lions forward Tesho Akindele. Since coming on, Pareja and Muzzi have started building the squad they want. They have acquired midfielder Andrés Perea on loan from Colombian side Atlético Nacional, signed David Loera and Jordan Bender to Homegrown contracts, and signed defender Rodrigo Schlegel from Racing Club of Argentina’s Primera División, with more additions expected.
Hiring Pareja may end up being the most impactful event of 2019, even if it only made it to sixth on our list.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2019.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2019
10. OCSC hosts the USMNT in Concacaf Nations League game.
9. OCB returns in USL League One.
8. The Orlando Pride defeat the Red Stars in Chicago.
7. Orlando City B picks up first USL League One win.