Orlando, Florida — James O’Connor was supposed to be the rebuilder for Orlando City SC. However, after his hiring in 2018, the Irish manager couldn’t get the team off it’s feet. O’Connor was fired from Orlando City on Monday morning, following an 11th place Eastern Conference finish.
Orlando was one spot ahead of last-place FC Cincinnati. O’Connor and Orlando City finished the season with a 9-15-10 record, securing 37 points in the ever-competitive Eastern Conference. Orlando finished the season prior in 11th place, which was last place in 2018.
O’Connor came from Louisville City FC. There, he found success.
In Kentucky, O’Connor helped lead Louisville to three-straight playoff appearances. He joined the club in 2015 as its first-ever manager. In the club’s first season, Louisville went all the way to the Conference Finals, before falling to the Rochester Rhinos. One year later, Louisville went back to the Conference Finals. This time, the club fell to New York Red Bulls II on penalty kicks.
In only Louisville’s third season, they lifted the USL trophy. O’Connor and his group made it past New York Red Bulls II on penalties a year later, and faced off with the Swope Park Rangers in the final. Cameron Lancaster scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Louisville survived a late red card to hoist the trophy.
Thank you for riding with us all year, fam! 👏 #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/MqjJNB6Qfr
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) October 6, 2019
Curtain call for O’Connor
After his championship-winning season, O’Connor went to Orlando. His finale was Sunday, when the Chicago Fire torched the Lions with a 2-5 victory. Orlando featured at home at Exploria Stadium in front of 22,433 fans.
After the match, O’Connor said the loss was a disappointing end to the season.
“When you look at the start of the year, I think the positivity that we had, I think the middle part of the year we handled the summer months really well,” O’Connor said. “I think we put ourselves in a great position. I’ve heard from a load of the supporters about we felt this year was our chance and this year we felt like we had a genuine effort to try and get into the playoffs. I think the finish has probably disappointed all of us I think when you look at it.”
In a statement, Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi thanked O’Connor for his two seasons with the Lions.
“On behalf of Orlando City we want to thank James O’Connor for all of his efforts during his coaching tenure at Orlando,” Muzzi said. “We wish James the best of luck in the next phase of his coaching career.”
O’Connor finished his Orlando career with a record of 11-27-13 in two years.