ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City SC hires James O’Connor as its Head Coach.
O’Connor will coach United Soccer League (USL) side Louisville City FC through its match 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 tremendous 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.
O’Connor began his head coaching career at LouCity ahead of the club’s inaugural season in 2015. Orlando City’s USL affiliate at the time, LouCity made its way to the fourth round of the Open Cup and made it to the USL Cup semifinal before falling to the eventual champion Rochester Rhinos.
In 2016, O’Connor led LouCity to a 12-point increase over the previous season and built a 17-game unbeaten streak. LouCity made its way to another Eastern Conference Final before falling to the eventual champion New York Red Bulls II.
Before going into coaching, O’Connor enjoyed a lengthy career as a player. A native of Ireland, O’Connor played for nearly a decade for then-English First Division side Stoke City, as well as West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday. O’Connor played for Orlando City from 2012 to 2014 during its USL Pro days, totaling over 4,000 minutes and helping the Club capture the 2012 USL regular-season championship and the 2013 USL Cup as a player/coach.