The Orlando Pride officially named Seb Hines as head coach of the club on Friday, one month after former head coach Amanda Cromwell‘s contract was terminated by the league following the results of the NWSL/NWSLPA Joint Investigation.
Additionally, as part of a full restructuring of the club’s front office, the Pride announced they parted ways with General Manager Ian Fleming.
“Seb is a talented coach that has demonstrated great leadership and an ability to get the most out of his players, while also establishing an inclusive and competitive team culture. He stepped into a difficult position this year, handling it with professionalism and brought about many positive changes both on and off the field for our Club,” Orlando Pride Chairman Mark Wilf said in a club release. “After evaluating what we want the future for the Pride to be, listening to player feedback and discussing with Seb, it became very clear that he has earned the opportunity to continue leading our Club. We are very excited to see what he can keep building with a full offseason and preseason ahead of the 2023 campaign. Seb has been an incredibly dedicated and passionate member of our organization and we are thrilled to have him as the next head coach for the Orlando Pride.”
Hines, who will become the first black full-time head coach in NWSL history, took over the gig on an interim basis in early June and the team saw immediate improvement, revitalizing the squad and pushing Orlando into the playoff hunt until the final weeks of the season. He managed the final 15 games, which included a seven-game unbeaten run, spanning nearly two months of play.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to leading the Pride ahead of the 2023 NWSL season. Orlando is a diverse and dynamic city, and I’m excited to build a team identity that reflects the values of our club and our community—a team that Pride fans can be proud of,” Hines said, who will work to fill out the rest of his coaching staff over the coming weeks. “It’s an inspiring time to be a part of this organization. We’re creating a competitive environment where players feel heard and supported to succeed. Our ownership group is deeply committed to building a world-class, winning culture, and I’m thrilled to work alongside them to make it a reality.”
Above Hines, more questions now remain in regard to the structuring of the soccer operations department. The club will begin working to mirror the setup at Orlando City, with a Vice President and General Manager of Soccer Ops, similar to the role that Luiz Muzzi holds for the MLS side.
The club has retained Bloom Sports, a leading sports advisory firm, to assist in the recruitment. Additionally, Mark Wilf announced the club will be “committing additional resources and headcount to the areas of player development, analytics, scouting, and medical services, with the hiring of these positions already underway or coming in the near future.”
Seb was the obvious choice for the role from the very beginning. The Pride could have raved more about Seb for his leadership throughout the season even if they tried, building a deep trust and level of commitment that Orlando couldn’t possibly ignore, especially given how disastrous their last hire in Cromwell went.
Hines took a roster that few expected much from and turned it into a contender, albeit not a serious one in most minds, keeping the Pride in contention right up until the final weeks of the 2022 season. With even modest roster improvement this offseason, specifically in front of goal, and the return of Marta expected, the Pride are positioned to be in the conversation for the playoff bubble once again.
On the front office side, the Wilfs have again here shown their commitment to the Pride and rebuilding this organization in equal standing with Orlando City. This front-office hire will be crucial to get right, as the Pride have a decent core of young players and a hefty sum of allocation money in hand to really transform this roster over the next couple of seasons into a yearly playoff contender in the ever-growing NWSL.
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