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Orlando City Fires Head Coach James O’Connor after 5-2 loss to Chicago

James O’Connor

Orlando City SC (9-15-10, 37 points) fell 5-2 to the Chicago Fire (10-12-12, 42 points) in its 2019 MLS season finale on Sunday afternoon at Exploria Stadium. But that’s not news.

The news that dropped today was that Orlando head coach James O’Connor was fired after finishing in 11th place for the second year in the row and missing the playoffs.

The Lions have now fired three head coaches in three years in three months, having fired Adrian heath in 2016 and Jason Kreis in 2018.

“On behalf of Orlando City we want to thank James for all of his efforts during his coaching tenure at Orlando,” Orlando City SC executive vice president of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi said in a statement. “We wish James the best of luck in the next phase of his coaching career.”

O’Connor expressed his disappointment after season-ending loss, giving a lot of praise to the fans who endured a year of disappointment.

“The hardest part is to have to go to the supporters and be a man and front up and thank them,” O’Connor said after Sunday’s loss to Chicago. “I’ve tried to do that after every game, to go over and make myself available to thank them. When you look at what they’ve given us throughout the course of the year… we’ve tried and tried and worked and we haven’t been able to get there. I hope they can see we tried but we just weren’t able to get there.”

Benji Michel Battles Chicago Fire defenders on Sunday, October 6 at Exploria Stadium Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis

As for the final game, The Lions scored the first goal when Benji Michel kicked a shot across the goal that deflected off of Tesho kindle and into the net in the 5th minute.

In the 17th minute, the Fire leveled the match when a cross into the box deflected off the foot of Kyle Smith into the back of the net.

Chicago also managed to hit the back of the net in the 61’st, and 62nd minutes with goals by C.J. Sapong and Aleksander Katai, followed by 2 scores in the Przemyslaw Frankowski 66th and 87th minutes.

Michel managed a score in the 74th minute giving the Lions fans a little hope for a possible comeback.

Mauricio Pereyra facing Chicago Fire’s Djordje Mihailovic on October 6, 2019 at Exploria Stadium, Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis

Orlando City’s season was built on hope for better with the addition of Nani, as well as Mauricio Pereyra. The Lions were in the 8th playoff position, but ran a string of losses and fell to 11th place.

With the firing of O’Connor, fans may be facing another coach who’s scheme that may not work with the current roster or players.

O’Connor did improve the Lion’s defensive woes, but failed to solve the problem of a center scorer in the center. It’s on to the next chapter for Orlando City SC.

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