ORLANDO, Fla. – Jason Kreis didn’t mince his words after Orlando City’s final home game, which ended with 1-0 loss against the Columbus Crew SC. It wasn’t good enough; their home form wasn’t good enough; the season wasn’t good enough; and there will be wholesale changes.
The disappointment of a third successive season without playoff soccer was clear to see after the emotional maelstrom of Kaká’s farewell game, which left Kreis with a sour feeling after signing him off with another home loss.
“We didn’t live up to expectations. We didn’t live up to what our fans and community deserved,” he said. “With the atmosphere we have, with this stadium and everything the ownership group has given, we needed to do better. So, we’ll spend the offseason focusing on where and how to get better.”
Kreis wouldn’t give any indication of who or how many players probably played their final game for Orlando along with the great Brazilian, but it’s clear he’s looking at multiple departures.
“I think we still have to do our work,” he explained. “That work shouldn’t really start until we finish our evaluations, and there’s still some evaluating to do. But, if you’re asking me a direct question, I’m not going to lie and say Ricky [Kaká] will be the only one who won’t be back next year. That’s part and parcel of professional sports – and being part of a team that’s not successful.”
As many as 10 of the 30-man roster could be on the “evaluation block” in the next few weeks, and Giles Barnes admitted it would be an uncomfortable period for all of them.
“No one is guaranteed to be here next year and I am sure there will be a lot of changes,” he said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, so you have to accept your fate. The staff have done an incredible job, but it is up to us to bring in the results. We haven’t managed to do that, so there will be changes. It happens every year in MLS. But, whoever gets to be at this great club next year, I think it’s going to be good.”
The Jamaican international insisted the players had given their best, but there had been shortcomings and errors. “There has been a lot of frustration,” he said. “We’ve played really well in games and been undone by individual mistakes or silly little things we could have eradicated.
“You can’t look anyone in the eyes in the locker room and say they haven’t tried. The game is about inches. But as long as you’ve given your best you can look at yourself in the mirror and look at the next person and say that I tried, but unfortunately I came up short.”
Barnes also paid a heartfelt tribute to Kaká for what he had given to the team. He spoke for all the players saying that “you really feel for Ricky. He has had such a great career and has helped to put this league and this team on the map. It wasn’t just farewell to a great player, it was farewell to a friend, and that’s the difference. He has been a friend to absolutely everyone here.”