HARRISON, N.J. — The offseason is officially underway for the Lions.
What was deemed to be a hopeful and promising season turned disappointing, and it officially ended as such Sunday night at Red Bull Arena.
Orlando City fell 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls, who won their third Supporters’ Shield title in six years.
And the Lions closed out the 2018 regular season with their worst losing run in their short MLS history.
After winning six out of its first nine games of the season, Orlando finished the year in last place in the Eastern Conference with only two wins in their last 25 regular season games while also setting the record for most-goals allowed in a single season with 74.
As the Orlando officially approaches the offseason, changes, as expected, are bound to come soon according to Orlando coach James O’Connor.
“We’ll have meetings this week with obviously players individually,” O’Connor said following Sunday’s game. “We’ll certainly do that, go through everything. There will be some reflection from the coaching staff, ourselves. We’ll sit with the players and go through everything.”
A roster overhaul last offseason saw the Lions acquire Sacha Kljestan via a trade from the Red Bulls in exchange for center back Tommy Redding and winger Carlos Rivas. Orlando also acquired $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for Kljestan.
The Lions also saw Justin Meram get traded to Orlando from the Columbus Crew in a blockbuster deal only to see the left winger get traded back to Columbus last summer in exchange for $750,000 in TAM and a 2019 international slot.
Left back Mohamed El-Munir and center back Amro Tarek were also brought in to cement the back line along with other newcomers Lamine Sane, Chris Schuler and Shane O’Neill.
Forward Dom Dwyer signed a new three-year contract with Orlando at the beginning of the year as well.
Adam Grinwis, who started in five games out of Orlando’s last six league games, was acquired by Orlando from USL side Saint Louis FC in the offseason as well.
Among other players brought at the beginning of the 2018 season include: R.J. Allen, Jose Villarreal, Oriol Rosell, Stefano Pinho and Josue Colman.
It is worth noting, however, that Peruvian defender/midfielder Carlos Ascues was the only player brought in this past summer transfer window under O’Connor.
The Orlando coach didn’t give specifics on when these changes will be made, citing player contract options, but he’s confident that he’ll be able to implement changes this offseason that matches his vision for the Lions in 2019.
“I got a really clear idea of how I want to play. I have a clear idea of the character that I want,” he said. “I have a very clear idea of the mentality that’s needed, so I think for me when need to sit down with the players individually. We need to go through a lot. I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get what we want for sure.”
Right back Scott Sutter said it’s difficult to put into words how this season has gone for Orlando, but he said it’s been disappointing.
“It’s been a tough one, no doubt about it,” said Sutter. “I can’t really defend it, especially, going into the season with so much hope and not living up to that. It’s been tough, not really much we can do now. Move on and plan for next season and work harder next year.”
Sutter said he doesn’t know if he’ll back with Orlando next season, but he did acknowledge the fact there will be a lot of moving pieces in the offseason just like last year
“I hope to be back,” said Sutter. “Rectify this and do things better next season.”
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(Photo by Vincent Carchietta / USA Today Sports Images)