Orlando City is not in dire straits by any means. There have been disappointing results for sure. The team’s home record has not been ideal and the team has lacked consistency in its attack, but the team is still in the thick of things. The Lions sit one point beneath the Playoff red line.
It was clear if Orlando City felt it needed to make a change, it needed to do so quickly to salvage the season. And that is even if there were not all the reported discord in the front office.
Jason Kreis brings to the team an entirely new voice and vision. It is hard to say how much he will be able to change, but the transfer window will bring an opportunity to shape the organization in his image. The pressure to win will remain though.
Orlando City has many things it has to address as Kreis takes over — beginning Monday, the previous coaching staff will coach training this week and Saturday’s game against Columbus. When he takes over though, he has several key questions he has to help answer.
Better integrate new players and use what he has
Without doubt, one of Orlando City’s enduring and frustrating storylines has been the mismatch of some players and the team’s inability to use players to their best ability.
Brek Shea has struggled at left back especially when paired with newcomer Antonio Nocerino, who has been a huge disappointment. Seemingly Shea’s tendency to attack and Nocerino’s tendency to lay back would have made them a nice fit. Unfortunately neither has been able to get going. And Nocerino’s struggles have left Orlando City exposed on that side.
The new players and the roster as constructed just has not been able to get into a good offensive flow. There have been plenty of chances and half chances that the team just has struggled to finish.
Orlando City has a more than capable offense. Until the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas games in the last few weeks, Orlando City had scored a goal in every game of the season. But something still feels like it is missing.
Maybe it is urgency and cohesion. Maybe it is something else.
Kreis has to get his finger on it and create a constant threat from this team.
Trim the fat, add to a long-term vision
The change for Orlando City is going to have to be fairly quick. The transfer window is open now and the team has to make some changes and some moves to improve the roster.
That also might be trimming some fat.
The team already did that somewhat with Adrian Winter departing the franchise. Nocerino may already be on the transfer market. And there are some teams reportedly sniffing around for Orlando City’s young talent.
There are opportunities to make changes and improve the roster, tweaking some things to get better. The transfer window last year brought in Winter who proved to be a big boost as the team made a late push. And certainly Orlando City could add some depth with Kaka fighting injuries and now Rafael Ramos too.
The addition of Kevin Alston and Julio Baptista have worked relatively seamlessly. The team has some things set. But there is way to improve.
What is really important for Orlando City overall is that they stick to a long-term vision. Winter ended up not working out. He was gone within a year.
The Lions are trying to make the playoffs now, but need to bring in players who can support and be part of the team for the long term. Failing to do that will hamper the team even more.
Let Kreis run things
The most important thing right now is to give Kreis the ability to build his team. There cannot be any ownership influence — which seemed to be part of signing Nocerino and pushing the pace on the competitive level of the team rather than relying on younger players to grow.
This has to be Kreis’ team. He has to be the one directing player personnel and putting together a team that fits his style.
His personality has to take over this team without too many outside influences.
This was reportedly a problem this year when it came to Adrian Heath as he related to upper management. Ultimately upper management wins and that likely cost Heath some capital and eventually his job.
Kreis though has to be given the freedom to stamp his identity on this team. That was something he may not have been given in New York with NYCFC last season.
Kreis is an accomplished coach in MLS. He knows how to do team building and create a MLS powerhouse, even without star players. The team needs to let him do that, even if there are growing pains along the way.