The soccer news starts with Orlando City going into the off season minus head coach James O’Connor. Orlando announced the decision on Monday, now seeking their fourth full-time coach since joining the league in 2015. Over that time, the club has yet to make the playoffs. That makes it hard to avoid yet another rebuild tag after yet another disappointing season. Just like last year, the club finished 11th in the Eastern Conference and 22nd overall.
Orlando’s 9-10-15 record this season was never going to point to longevity for their current setup. They never got back-to-back wins, turning the occasional undefeated streak into 5 points from three games instead of 9 in July and 8 points instead of 12 in August. Their last win came on August 14 at home against Sporting Kansas City. All told, Orlando only beat two playoff teams, the Red Bulls in their first win of the season on March 23 and FC Dallas on August 3, a club that needed Decision Day to grab the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Still, this remains MLS so there’s always a glimpse at something bigger. That would be the 2-2 draw at home against LAFC on September 7. Specifically, LAFC taking the lead in the 12th minute and Orlando equalizing a minute later. Orlando took the lead in the 20th and held onto it until LAFC’s 78th minute equalizer. Granted, this was one of the games where LAFC was without Carlos Vela, but it was Orlando showing that LAFC is a different team when their leading scorer isn’t playing. That wasn’t a safe assumption until Orlando demonstrated it over 90 minutes.
How a club capable of that never took greater advantage in 2019 is an interesting question. MLS is full of examples of under-staffed teams getting it together and making the playoffs, much less performing well enough to get their current setup another season. As hard as it is to make that case for Orlando’s 2019 edition, they did occasionally show that there’s no point in underestimating any team in MLS. After all, FC Cincinnati won six games this season.
ESPN FC has Tim Howard talking about his final professional game. The Athletic’s Josh Gross talks to members of LAFC about their unexpected season. Pro Soccer USA’s Robert Jonas looks at San Jose’s coaching question. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Brian Sandalow reports on the Fire officially announcing the move to Soldier Field.
BBC Sport’s Daniel Storey tells the story of Monaco, now struggling in Ligue 1. OptaJoe for iNews on explains what expected goals tells us about Bayern’s lopsided win at Spurs. The Manchester Evening News’ Joe Bray goes back to Manchester City’s 2013-14 Premier League season.
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Logo courtesy of Orlando City