Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer has first-hand experience with new coach James O’Connor.
The two captured a USL title together in 2013, when Dwyer was on loan for Orlando City and O’Connor was a player/coach. Dwyer was on loan from Sporting KC, so the two only had one season to work together, but O’Connor made a lasting impression on Dwyer.
Dwyer, now 27, was still early in his career when he played alongside O’Connor, who on Friday was named Orlando City’s head coach.
“I’m very excited,” Dwyer said. “He was an older player that definitely made an effort with me when I was younger. I have big admiration for him, a lot of respect for him. He was a player, obviously, with me in 2013, but he was basically a player-coach then. He was very vocal. I don’t know specifically as a coach, but I’m very excited to have him here.
“I think he knows what this club is about. Someone who’s been there before. He’s passionate, and I think he’ll be a great addition for us.”
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who otherwise was at a loss for words after Orlando City’s 4-0 loss to Atlanta United and eighth consecutive defeat in league play, said a new coach joining the club can be a reset of sorts for Orlando City.
The Lions (6-10-1, 19 points) haven’t won a match in league play since May 6.
“It’s not going to be easy for us to dig ourselves out of this hole, but we’ve got to do it one game at a time,” Kljestan said.
“Positive side, the coach is coming in, and I think everybody is excited to have a new coach. Everyone’s got to prove themselves to him. I think we have some young guys that are hungry, that are hoping for a new chance.
“I hope the rest of us older guys that have been around show what we need to show to the new coach to try to get this thing going again. We’ve obviously got problems right now, but we’ve got to do better. We’ve got a chance with the new coach, so we’ll see.”
Dwyer said the club needs to “get back to the drawing board.” Saturday night, Dwyer said he hadn’t spoken to O’Connor yet. O’Connor on Saturday coached his final match with Louisville City, a 3-3 draw with New York Red Bulls II.
O’Connor is set to join the club this week as it prepares for a match against LAFC.
“Obviously, something’s not working right for us, and I think we’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand – that’s being a competitive side and making the playoffs,” Dwyer said.
“We’ve got to start getting back to our winning ways again and get back to the side that we know we are. I think we’re a talented group of players and we’re not showing it now. We’ve got to roll our sleeves up right now, regroup and get back to it next week.”
Interim coach Bobby Murphy said after eight consecutive losses, Orlando City is still looking just looking for a break – for one ball to bounce the Lions’ way.
“Everybody just wants to get through this time,” Murphy said. “We all want to get to the other side – whatever that looks like. Hopefully, James can come in and with a new set of eyes look at things differently. Hopefully, he can push them through.”