James O’Connor returns to Orlando City as Head Coach

Orlando City SC has this afternoon announced the return to the club of James O’Connor (pictured above) as its new Head Coach.

O’Connor began his career with Stoke City and after progressing from their youth team he helped them to victory in the 2000 Football League Trophy Final as well as the 2002 Football League Second Division play-off Final. After making over 200 appearances for the Potters he left to join Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2003. He spent one season at the Hawthorns before moving on to Burnley. O’Connor became a regular at Turf Moor making 149 appearances in four seasons at the club before joining Sheffield Wednesday in June 2008, where he  spent four years making over 150 appearances. In January 2012 he decided to move to the United States to play for Orlando City where he made 41 appearances for the Lions. O’Connor retired from playing in the summer of 2014 to become head coach of Louisville City, where he won the 2017 USL Cup Championship.

O’Connor will coach United Soccer League (USL) side Louisville City FC through its match with New York Red Bulls II on Saturday before joining the Lions in Orlando ahead of their match against Los Angeles FC on Saturday, July 7. Lions interim head coach Bobby Murphy will lead the Lions through Saturday’s match at Atlanta United.

“James was our top target going into the coaching search. 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,” Lions general manager Niki Budalic said. “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, 38, most recently coached Louisville City FC to an 18-6-8 (W-L-D) record to finish atop the Eastern Conference before leading the team to the 2017 USL Cup Championship in his third year as head coach. O’Connor’s success earned him a second-place finish for 2017 USL Coach of the Year.

Louisville City currently sits in third in the USL Eastern Conference and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with wins over MLS side New England Revolution in the fourth round and USL side Nashville SC in the Round of 16.

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