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Orlando City interim coach Bobby Murphy: Firing of Jason Kreis was a surprise

Orlando City interim coach Bobby Murphy doesn’t know how long he be in charge, and he’s not much concerned with it.

He knows, for now, it’s up to him to right the ship after the firing of head coach Jason Kreis.

Murphy spoke to members of the media on Tuesday, offering his first public comments since Kreis was fired on Friday. Murphy said he was asked by club CEO Alex Leitão to be the interim head coach after Kreis and the club parted ways.

“I got word after it happened,” Murphy said. “Jason and I spoke and that will stay between us. The club approached me and asked if I’d be willing to do it and that was it. Then it was just a matter of trying to organize everything for the weekend and getting ready for training.”

Murphy didn’t want to speculate on the moves of the front office. He said he’s not thinking about the opportunity to become the next head coach. Leitão told ProSoccerUSA.com he a new coach to be hired next week.

“For me, the way I have to live my life and do my job, I can’t get caught up in that stuff,” he said. “My focus is on today, what I can do to be of service to those players and get them ready. When it comes to the other stuff, I don’t concern myself with it at all.”

Orlando City returns to action on Wednesday with a U.S. Open Cup match against D.C. United.

“It’s hard,” Murphy said.

“It’s always difficult when you go through this because you have personal relationships with Jason and the rest of the guys. It’s also the nature of the business and what we signed up for. To ask how I’m doing, to me, is secondary. It’s about how the players are doing and trying to get them prepared and ready to go for tomorrow night.”

He said the players seem well and they understand coaches can be fired. The team met Friday after the news of Kreis’ firing reached players.

“I think there’s a shock and there’s a period of sadness and hopefully some self-reflection,” he said.

Captain and centerback Jonathan Spector said he’s familiar with coaching changes – he had five managers in five seasons with Premier League side West Ham United – and added the club is keeping up its “one day at a time” mentality.

“All we can do is focus on what’s ahead of us, and that this game against D.C.,”  Spector said. “With Bobby taking charge of the team for the time being, it’s our job as players to get behind him and support him and listen to the ideas that he has and the points he wants to get across for this game.

“We don’t control who comes in next or when that is, so as players, our sole focus is on this next game against D.C. United.”

Midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who serves as captain when Spector isn’t available on match day, said players definitely feel a sense of responsibility when a coach is fired.

“We’re the ones that are on the field and we are the ones that couldn’t make the difference to not lose six games in a row, so we have to feel a responsibility for Jason’s firing,” Kljestan said.

“In the end, we still are here and we still have to keep pushing ourselves along. We have to keep getting better because by the end of the season it’s going to be us that makes the playoffs or doesn’t make the playoffs, and that weighs on me as a player.

“We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got to come with a fresh new energy. We’ve got to start our season anew, almost in a way. We’re still above the playoff line. We’ve got to keep pushing ourselves along. We’ve got a good chance in the Open Cup to make a run.”

The responsibility of the players is something Murphy said he brought up when he met with members of the team on Friday. 

“What’s transpired is not down to one person or two people or three people,” Murphy said. “What I told them on Friday is that there’s something missing in this group right now, but the solution to that was sitting in the room that we were all in together.” 

Murphy said in order to reengage the team, there might be room for some tactical or lineup changes for Orlando City.

“We can talk about, ‘Oh, we’re a good team,’ right?” Murphy said. “If we were a good team, these things wouldn’t be happening. If we were a good team right now, these things wouldn’t be happening. We have to become really aware, conscious of the decisions we make inside of a game, have a real appreciation for moments, because moments change games.”

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