MLS firings: O’Connor out as Orlando manager

Leagues, Major League Soccer, Orlando City SC, Story
Chicago Fire end their season with a rout of fellow playoff outsider Orlando City. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Orlando City fired manager James O’Connor on Monday, a day after the Lions concluded their season with a 5-2 home defeat to the Chicago Fire, finishing in 11th place in the 12-team Eastern Conference.

Orlando, which has never made the playoffs in its five seasons of MLS existence, will now search for their fourth head coach in their brief MLS history.

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“On behalf of Orlando City we want to thank James for all of his efforts during his coaching tenure at Orlando,” Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. “We wish James the best of luck in the next phase of his coaching career.”

After winning the 2017 USL Championship with Louisville City, O’Connor was hired by Orlando in June of 2018, replacing Jason Kreis. He compiled a record of 11-27-13 during his time in Orlando, despite a roster rebuild this season that including the Designated Player signings of Nani and Mauricio Pereyra.

What likely sealed O’Connor’s fate was the fact that with a playoff place on the line, the Lions only managed to go 0-4-4 down the stretch, finishing eight points adrift of the seventh and final playoff spot. Muzzi, who was hired at the start of the season, will now lead the search for the next head coach.

O’Connor is the only manager so far to be fired on “Black Monday,” but he’s the seventh MLS head coach to be dismissed this season, with Orlando joining FC Cincinnati, Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake as teams who made managerial changes. Both the Revs and RSL managed to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.

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