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Orlando City looks for offensive-minded coach to replace James O’Connor

Executive Vice President Luiz Muzzi will focus on selecting an offensive-minded coach during the upcoming search.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City executive vice president Luiz Muzzi is focused on the future, searching for the ideal new head coach to finally lead the club to the playoffs after he fired James O’Connor on Monday.

Muzzi said he would have preferred to keep O’Connor to maintain continuity with the club, but he couldn’t justify another season of failing to reach the playoffs. The coming weeks will offer Muzzi with a chance to select a coach of his own for the first time in his tenure in Orlando.

“I feel like this is gonna be an important moment now,” Muzzi said. “We’re gonna have to find the right person. We all need to move in the same direction. Otherwise you’re gonna bring in a new coach and it’s gonna be the same thing. I feel like it’s an advantage that I have the chance to bring in somebody who’s aligned with those things, but everybody here should be on the same page.”

The most broad improvement Muzzi hopes to make with the coaching change is to implement a club-wide culture of play that extends beyond individual games. He said he felt this season lacked that cohesive style, which contributed to the team’s inability to ever post consecutive league wins under O’Connor.

“We have to have a style, right?” Muzzi said. “We have to determine a coach and philosophically what we want to be. It doesn’t matter if we’re gonna high press, it doesn’t matter if we’re gonna play 4-3-2-1. You can change things around, but you need to have that identity. I feel like we have a chance to implement that now.”

Moving forward, Muzzi wants to select an offensive-minded coach who can create an entertaining brand of football in Orlando. The executive vice president said he would prefer a coach who takes chances to secure wins rather than settling for a high volume of draws.

Orlando City settled for four draws during the final eight-game stretch of the 2019 season, fumbling valuable opportunities to secure necessary points to advance to the postseason.

“Playing offensive is usually in the DNA of some coaches,” Muzzi said. “Some coaches like to take those chances and some coaches are more defensive by nature. … I think that we need to be offensive. I think that we need to win games and sometimes take risks.”

Muzzi said he did not make the decision to fire O’Connor with a potential new coach lined up. However, he said he has an idea of potential coaches who he feels fit the bill and also received the names of at least 35 interested coaches on Monday.

Moving forward, Muzzi will look to balance patience and urgency. He said he doesn’t plan on making a decision in the upcoming weeks; however, the club doesn’t want this process to extend until the end of the year.

With less than two months left before the club has to exercise all player options, Muzzi emphasized there will be some time for the club to make these personnel decisions.

“I think that the one thing that’s not gonna happen is that we’re gonna take a chance on a coach,” Muzzi said. “Whoever is coming in is a coach that we already know in terms of we know what this guy is gonna bring to the table. It’s not gonna be a gamble. We can’t afford that anymore.”

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