Orlando City took a look into its past to find the replacement for Jason Kreis, who was dismissed as the Lions’ manager back on June 15. The Lions announced Friday afternoon that former star James O’Connor would become the organization’s third manager in team history.

It became apparent after 15 games into the regular season that Orlando City needed to shake things up somehow after an off-season of compiling some of Major League Soccer’s top talents. Players like Dom Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan are dotted along the Lions’ roster, but with no real chemistry to tie in.

“James (O’Connor) was our top target going into the coaching search,” said Orlando City SC general manager Niki Budalic. “He has proven himself a consistent winner as both a player and coach at the USL level, and now is extremely eager to prove himself in MLS. James is very aware of the winning culture we have built in Orlando and what it will take to uphold that tradition in both the short and long term. We couldn’t be more excited for him to get started.”

O’Connor will get his chance to try and turn around a Lions club that has completely freefalled down the Eastern Conference standings in the past several games. Scoring goals will be one of his main objectives in trying to change Orlando’s losing ways into some wins.

The Lions have an away game tomorrow against Atlanta United FC, in which O’Connor will watch from afar before making his coaching debut. He will get his first crack at managing in-game on July 7th when Orlando City travels out west to face Los Angeles.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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