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In a startling late night announcement last night, Orlando City Soccer Club announced that they had agreed to part ways with Head Coach Adrian Heath (pictured above left).
In a 9.09pm press release the club said “they had amicably parted ways with Head Coach Adrian Heath, effective today.”
Coach Heath has been with the club since its beginnings in Austin, Texas, in 2008 and he relocated with the team to Orlando in 2011.
“It is always a very difficult decision to part ways with a head coach and not one that the Board of Directors has taken lightly. It is even more difficult when that coach has been instrumental in the growth of the Club since its inception over eight years ago. Adrian has served this Club with passion and enthusiasm,” said Orlando City Founder & President Phil Rawlins. “While our successes together are undoubtable, we believe the renewed energy this change will bring will be uplifting for the team. We feel that the time has come for us to move on with our future in MLS. We continue to remain very excited about the growth of our Club.”
“This is a very difficult moment, but I fully support the decision made by the Board. I want to thank Adrian for the commitment and hard work he has given our team over the years and wish him success in his career,” said Club Majority Owner Flavio Augusto da Silva. “Now, it’s time for us to turn our focus onto the rest of the season. We will do everything in our power to continue improving and giving our fans the best of us because they have been fantastic supporters.”
Heath had a tremendous track record with Orlando City, winning two USL Championships and three USL regular season titles.
Assistant Head Coach, Mark Watson, has also left the Club by mutual agreement, effective immediately.
The club also announced that while they conduct a comprehensive search for a new head coach, the team will be led by Assistant Coach Bobby Murphy and Orlando City B Head Coach Anthony Pulis.
Heath was serving a three year new contract awarded to him in November 2014 as reward for all the great work he had done for the club previously. He had also turned down more lucrative job offers from MLS teams while still coach of the Lions in USLPRO saying he wanted to see the project through.
The decision hasn’t entirely come as a surprise given the off season shenanigans of the team ownership in replacing other key members of staff but the timing of the move is most certainly questionable. Just half way through the season the side is still in a decent position to make the stated goal of the play offs and while some performances weren’t particularly good, it is hard to make the argument that Heath deserved to be fired based upon the first half season results.
Sadly, it seems that we will now have to re-visit our December post (here) as yet more questions now need to be answered by the team ownership as to how they see the future of the club.
Ultimately, it’s an extremely sad day to realize that one of the men largely responsible for the success of the club is no longer with it. Previously the club had worked extremely hard to create links to the local community and Adrian Heath was a large part of that as he made his time freely available to talk to fans about the game. On face value, it seems the club has now just become another football club in the world where they will hire and fire staff at will instead of being patient and rewarding loyalty.
Our best wishes go to Adrian for the kindness he showed to us since the move to Orlando. Our thoughts are with him and his family who, frankly, deserved much better and much more professional treatment than they got.
We will continue to bring you all the news from Orland City Soccer.