The Armando Carneiro move and our official reaction

The Iron Lion Firm and The Ruckus are both supporter clubs that have been around from literally day one of existence of this club.  We both love this team and support OCSC through the good and bad.  As supporters however, we believe in accountability and as the most enthusiastic of supporters we will speak up when we see something go down that does not make sense or that we perceive to be damaging to the club.  We are not however blind to the complex realities of Major League Soccer and the difficult decisions that must be made as a pro sports franchise. 

When Orlando City let go of Tally Hall for contract reasons we were not happy.  Tally was a valued member of our club and an active member of our community.  Most of us however understood the salary cap realities facing the club and the hesitation associated with bringing back a keeper who had very real long term health concerns.  Tally Hall will be missed but any savvy supporter understands the logic behind this decision just like we understood why the club at one point let go footballers we considered to be the true pillars of this club like Miguel Gallardo, Rob Valentino and Jamie Watson.  Professional sports is a business in which the players who are our heroes on the pitch can come and go as quickly as the tide.   

What even the most savvy ILF officer or member could not understand was the decisions being made by our head soccer executive Armando Carneiro.  From the beginning we were perplexed as to why Carneiro was even hired by OCSC.  Armando had good pedigree in Europe as one of the old continents top talent creators leading Benfica for six years and developing countless top players in Portugal.  While he had a polished resume in Europe, we could not understand why Carneiro was essentially pushing Paul McDonough out of his role as GM to make room for a man that did not know how to speak English nor have a basic understanding of how Major League Soccer works.  

You see, developing players and spotting talent in the United States is MUCH different than Europe.  In Portugal, mega clubs like Benfica have millions of dollars in resources to bring in children and develop talent in their academies where preteen kids are fully immersed in the soccer academy at an early age.  Benfica has the ability to scout kids from across Portugal, Europe, Africa and if they have the talent, they are scouted into the Benfica Youth Academy at no cost to their families.  The model for developing players is much different in the United States where the pay for play model is still the norm.  The top 'academy' players for clubs like Orlando City are mostly sourced directly from the pay for play system where only kids whose parents can afford four figure yearly registration fees can participate.  That is one of the biggest challenges in the United States today and not just for Orlando City.  Not only should kids whose parents can afford to pay top dollar for proper training be exposed to top notch coaching and training.  Carneiro was not exposed to this reality just like Carneiro likely knew nothing about the complex salary cap realities of Major League Soccer.  

In Europe, clubs like Benfica are free to spend as much as they can afford with respect to player wages and transfer fees.  There are no salary cap considerations or complex rules like we have here in the U.S.  Major League Soccer might have one of the most complicated league structures on the planet.  Things like designated players, college drafts, homegrown players, generation Adidas, salary cap, etc are items Carneiro had never had to deal with.  Not only that, but he knew nothing about the American Footballer.  I would wager heavy amounts of money that I have seen typical American footballer like Justin Mapp play soccer 100x more than Armando Carneiro ever did.  As much as you may or may not have liked Paul McDonough, in him we had a man who knew U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer.  We replaced him for an individual with a blank slate and no experience in how the sport is structured here.  

To say we were skeptical of Armando was an understatement.  That skepticism was further made evident when Paul McDonough officially left the club and with the with the mind blowing decisions to let go of long time assistant Coach Ian Fuller along with moving goalkeeper Coach Marcos Machado out of the first team.  It seemed as though the groundwork was being laid to eventually push out Adrian Heath as Head Coach.  Not only that but there appears to have been lots of dissatisfaction at the OCSC front office with layoffs and resignations occurring across the board in a variety of jobs.  The ILF was confused as to what was going on with our club.  We voiced our protest for these decisions through our social media platforms, this blog and through a protest we held along with The Ruckus demanding answers as to why such questionable decisions were being made.  

We are not arrogant enough to think we had any influence as to being the reason why Armando Carneiro resigned.  We don't know if he is just a quitter or if the complex realities on the ground of soccer here in the U.S. finally hit him.  We also wonder if there is the possibility that Flavio Da Silva realized that the hire of Armando was a mistake and that the decisions made were not for the greater good of our club?  I don't know the answer and this is still largely a mystery as even the top journalist in this city like Mike Bianchi can't get a straight answer as to what exactly happened.  

So now Phil Rawlins is tasked with the responsibility of being the interim General Manager.  It goes without saying, the ILF has a deep amount of respect and trust for Phil.  Phil Rawlins represents this club as much as anyone and was essentially our General Manager in the USL years of this franchise.  After being mostly a spokesman and community representative for Orlando City for the last year, we question if this will be a long term role for Phil or just an interim move.  

Mistakes happen.  Nobody is perfect.  Despite our countless successes as a young club, OCSC is also susceptible to making errors and we understand that.  While the hiring and firing of Armando Carneiro is still shrouded in mystery, it is safe to say that his hiring was a mistake which has now been corrected.  Respect to Flavio for recognizing our club was headed in the wrong direction.  We firmly believe that while Flavio is mostly a hands off owner, he stepped into this situation in understanding we were headed in the wrong direction as a club.  Much credit to him for that.  

So for now we are tired of this front office drama and hope it is over with.  We are looking forward to the full release of the 2016 schedule and the preseason.  OCSC has the framework to be a solid club on the pitch.  Cheers and go City.