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Former Orlando City coach James O’Connor joins Louisville City front office

The former coach will head up development for the club’s NWSL side, Louisville Proof, while also expanding the club’s academy system.

Orlando City coach James O'Connor acknowldedges fans during a match against NYCFC in Orlando on July 26, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Former Orlando City coach James O’Connor is joining the Louisville City front office. 

O’Connor has been named executive vice president of development, with his primary focus on developing the club’s NWSL team, Louisville Proof, which will enter the league in 2021. The former coach will also lead the development of Louisville City’s academy system and USL League Two side.

“We are excited to welcome James into our front office,” Soccer Holdings president Brad Estes said. “Hack and his staff are doing a phenomenal job leading our USL Championship team. We know James will be equally effective in developing the plan for our academy and in building our NWSL side.”

The new role will be a homecoming for O’Connor, who served as the first head coach for Louisville City’s men’s team. In three years, O’Connor led the club to its first USL Championship before he was hired to become the Orlando City coach.

O’Connor got his start in coaching and management as a player-coach in 2013 for Orlando City when the club remained in the USL Pro league. He became the coach of Louisville City in its first season in 2015, building the foundation for a club that has gone on to win two USL championships in five seasons. 

After joining the Lions as head coach midway through the 2018 season, O’Connor was fired at the end of a 2019 season after the team missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

This will be O’Connor’s first opportunity to work on the front office side of the game, and he’ll have his hands full as he takes on a role that expands both the men’s and women’s teams for Louisville City. O’Connor will be tasked with building an NWSL club from the ground up, which will include hiring a coach and full staff while identifying and acquiring talent to fill a roster for the 2021 season.

At the same time, he will work with the Louisville City staff to expand the academy and youth development programs for both the men’s and women’s sides. 

“I’d like to thank John Neace, Brad Estes and the ownership group for giving me this great opportunity,” O’Connor said. “It is a wonderful time to be rejoining this class organization. We have an opportunity to build our Academy to develop the next generation of local talent. We are also welcoming some of the best women’s soccer stars in the world to Louisville in 2021. We have a lot of work to do, and I can’t wait to get started.”

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