ORLANDO, Fla. — When candidates for Orlando City’s vacant head coaching position speak with club CEO Alex Leitão, they’re all being told the same thing.
Leitão, speaking to members of the media at Orlando City Stadium before the Lions match against the Montreal Impact, said the team is not in rebuild mode, despite Jason Kreis’ firing.
“We have the profile that we want,” Leitão said.
“This is a group of players that we believe [in]. We believe they are very, very strong. [Candidates] have to understand that this is the group of players they are going to coach. If they believe in this, if they believe in this club… the pressure we have… and we never walk away from that pressure, the desire this club has to succeed now, and the group of players that we have, if they all understand that and they want to come here and do it, we’re going to move forward and talk.”
Leitão said hundreds of potential coaches have expressed interest in the position, though he declined to name specific candidates. He stuck with what he told Pro Soccer USA earlier this week and said he still expects to name a head coach sometime next week.
He added that coach might have the ability to make “one or two moves,” but said Orlando City’s squad is mostly set.
“It’s complicated to say an exact time,” Leitão said, adding he wants to announce a coach as soon as possible.
Orlando City GM Niki Budalić is still conducting early interviews and once he narrows down prospects, club owner Flávio Augusto da Silva and Leitão will get involved in the interview process.
Budalić, da Silva and Leitão will make the final decision.
“Right now, what we’re doing right now is we’re separating into what we call the ‘clusters,’” Leitão said. “There’s a group of coaches that are young ones that [have] been successful in other leagues, in minor leagues that believe that they deserve and they belong to the MLS level.
“There are some other types coaches that have already been successful in this league and understand MLS and could come in and succeed in Orlando.
“And, as well, looking overseas and looking for coaches that not in our ecosystem here.”
Leitão was complimentary of Kreis, as well as assistant coaches CJ Brown and Miles Joseph, and wished them well in their future endeavors. He said Kreis’ firing was about more than just where the Lions are in the current Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Kreis was fired with Orlando City still above the playoff line.
“The way we see that is looking at the trend,” Leitão said. “When you take that decision, of course you have to take into consideration the result, but it’s not only [that]. There’s a lot of information and facts that we know and we have into consideration and we have to anticipate the situation.
“It’s not saying that Jason and Miles and CJ are not capable. Maybe they’ll go to another club and they’re going to be successful. But understanding all the aspects and the philosophies and the players we have and the way we’ve been doing the things, we anticipate we’ll have more chances bringing in another coach.”