Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao lays out expectations as Lions mull next coach

ORLANDO, Fla. – The message is clear regarding the task for Orlando City SC’s next head coach: Make the playoffs this year.

That’s what Lions CEO Alex Leitão told reporters Saturday afternoon at Orlando City Stadium ahead of the club’s match against the Montreal Impact.

“We told them very straightforward … we want to be in the playoffs and they know that,” said Leitão. “Here we have this pressure. I feel the pressure, the fans want it. We built this club around that desire to succeed, and whoever comes here needs to know that.”

The Lions made it very clear prior to the 2018 season starting that making the playoffs this year was the goal.

A bad start to the season was ameliorated by a club-record six-game winning streak, which was followed by a club-record six-game losing streak that eventually cost head coach Jason Kreis and his assistants Miles Joseph and CJ Brown their jobs last week.

Since then, Bobby Murphy has taken the helm as interim boss while the front office conducts interviews for its third coach in four years.

On Tuesday Leitão told ProSoccerUSA he hoped to name the Lions' new hire this coming week, but on Saturday he didn’t give a timeline on when Orlando will name their new head coach. The Brazilian did say an announcement will be coming as soon as possible, though.

“It’s complicated to say the exact time,” said Leitão. “This is the expectation, it’s a process. You don’t want to date this situation too long, [so] it’s hard to say a date. At the same time, we need to do it right. We understand the urgency and we are moving and we are going to announce it as soon as possible.”

According to Leitão, the interview process for the next coach has begun with general manager Niki Budalic conducting the first round of interviews. Leitão and club majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva will then step in toward the final stage of the process.

Leitão said several potential candidates have expressed interest in Orlando.

“So right now, what we’re doing is separating in clusters,” said Leitão, who declined to confirm reports that former Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter has been interviewed for the job. “There’s a group of coaches – young ones that have been successful in other leagues and minor leagues that we believe belong in MLS.

“There are some other top head coaches out there that have been successful in this league and understands can come here and succeed in Orlando. As well, looking overseas, looking for coaches that are not in our ecosystem here.”