Thank you Coach Heath for always bringing passion to our club. Thank you Coach Heath for bringing us two USL titles. Thank you Coach Heath for all your hard work. Thank you Coach Heath for bringing personality to your craft. Thank you Coach Heath for that fiery attitude which set the tone for the supporters section. Thank you Coach Heath for being a gentlemen anytime you were approached by a supporter out in public. Thank you Coach Heath for speaking your mind and giving MLSHQ the middle finger. Thank you Coach Heath for beating the Rowdies six straight times and taking that game seriously because you knew how much it meant to us. Thank you Coach Heath for playing an instrumental role in bringing us to Major League Soccer. Thank you Coach Heath for the memories.
The 2015 Orlando City Soccer campaign was a success by any reasonable fans account. OCSC were in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference until our last regular season fixture of the season. As directors and leaders of the Iron Lion Firm, we were happy with the direction of our club and pleased with our inaugural MLS campaign. Inchy was not without fault. Heath many times had riffs with players. This was a recurring theme back to the USL days. His training techniques were questioned as we were riddled with injuries throughout the first season. Our club had a fractured locker room where cliques hung with one another and true team camaraderie could not be fully fostered. We knew all of this. Despite these short comings and critiques, it is impossible for any level minded supporter to think our first season in the top flight was anything but a success.
The off season leading up to the 2016 campaign is what led to today. Under the leadership of club owner Flavio Da Silva, the team made wholesale changes in the off season which left many of us perplexed. Our front office had massive turnover from the very top in firing team General Manager Paul McDonough to long time Assistant Coach Ian Fuller after what appeared to most as a job well done. Many other long time beloved Front Office employees were also let go as well from trainers, to executives to long time ticket representatives which had been with the club from day one. As supporters we could not understand what exactly was going on with our team and what the thought process was behind what appeared to be a series of irrational decisions. The poster boy of 2016 dysfunction was Armando Carneiro. OCSC went from having one of the most well respected GM's in MLS with McDonough to a man like Carneiro who did not have a lick of experience working in the complex, difficult and nuanced MLS structure. Shortly after accepting the job Armando quit leaving us with no GM going into the 2016 season. Two things were made abundantly clear by the folly of mishaps that took place in the winter; ownership had no confidence in Coach Heath (thereby undermining his decision making and position as a leader of the club) and that they (ownership) were in over their heads in making a series of rash determinations which quickly backfired and left the club in a worse state that we were going into the 2015 off season.
This season has been an exercise in mediocrity. Despite being in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race, OCSC has been plagued with sub par play throughout the season. To make matters worse, Coach Heath continued to have issues with many players and in many ways seems to have lost the locker room. Win, lose or draw, you could bank on a number of City players getting drunk as skunks after a game downtown. We looked sloppy on the pitch. Players routinely threw temper tantrums on the field lacking professionalism. A change had to be made.
Did Coach Heath fail because he was not up to the coaching caliber required to succeed in MLS or is it that he was undermined by Flavio Da Silva and the decision makers he put in place? Was it that based on the rash of bad decisions made in the off season by our front office that Coach Heath lost the respect of his players and the ability to fully execute his job how he sees fit? We think that while Inchy's stubbornness and inability to relate to younger players likely played a small part in his firing, the latter is the reason why Coach Heath failed. This day is on Flavio much more than it is on Inchy.
Coach Adrian Heath, you leave our club a legend. I hope you stay in Orlando, get a cushy analyst job and make a good living based on the laurels and accomplishments you earned in your time as Head Coach of OCSC. We in the Iron Lion Firm will support you regardless. Thank you one last time gaffer. You are the standard and the benchmark. We love you.
CAA, Director Iron Lion Firm