If there’s one thing to know about new Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines, it’s that he’s in it for the long haul.
Since becoming a professional soccer player at age 17 in 2005, Hines has only ever been employed by two clubs – England’s Middlesbrough, where he played 10 years between the Premier League and the English Championship, and Orlando City and Orlando Pride, which he joined ahead of City’s inaugural MLS season in 2015.
“As a player, I always wanted to win an MLS Cup. I don't think you play here unless you want to win something,” Hines told Orlando-Pride.com in an exclusive interview following his appointment to the Club’s head coaching position last Friday. “There's unfinished business with me here [in Orlando]. This is my second home…I feel like I have a responsibility to bring a championship to this community.”
After three years playing with City, Hines retired from pro soccer and entered the coaching ranks, beginning with Orlando City Youth Soccer in 2018. At first, he wasn’t sure how he wanted his career to go.
Behind the scenes: Seb Hines named head coach of Orlando Pride
“To be honest, I didn't really know what path I was going to [take],” Hines said. “Life hits you hard. One minute you’re playing, the next minute you're not. I had to move on from that."
While working with the youth teams, Hines, 34, was given an opportunity to observe Pride training sessions with then-coach Tom Sermanni, giving him his first glimpse of the women’s game
“I'm really grateful for that. Just being a part of it, being around world-class players and being in a professional environment, you don't get that opportunity too often,” Hines reflected. “So it just progressed from there…it's just something that you never really plan out to do, but you just go with the flow. And then before you know it, you’re head coach of the Club."
Hines was officially added to the staff under Marc Skinner in May 2020, helping see the team through a difficult pandemic year. 2021 was challenging as well, as Skinner left for Manchester United midway through the campaign and Hines had to provide continuity, first under interim coach Becky Burleigh and then new hire Amanda Cromwell in 2022.
Cromwell and assistant Sam Greene were placed on administrative leave by the NWSL in early June, elevating Hines to the interim head coaching position. The start of his appointment, as Hines will admit, was not ideal. The Pride lost his first two games in charge, including a 6-0 walloping at the hands of the Portland Thorns at Providence Park on June 19.
Hines called that game a “defining moment."
“It's well-documented that we didn't perform. We got hammered. At that moment, we knew that we had to change things,” he said. “We had to bring additional staff in, and we had to really show the players what our principles are and our values are. We have really good players in the team and it's just trying to get the most out of them and that's certainly what we did. We got a really good run going.”
Hines added former Orlando City players Giles Barnes and Miguel Gallardo to his staff during the team’s bye week following the Portland game and began a significantly more intense fitness regimen for the players. The Pride fell behind 2-0 in their next game – the Daytona SoccerFest showdown against Racing Louisville at Daytona International Speedway – but rallied to draw with second-half goals from Kylie Strom and Darian Jenkins.
Full press conference: Seb Hines introduced as Pride Head Coach
That result sparked a run of seven consecutive games without a loss, reviving spirits inside and outside the organization while propelling the Pride from the bottom of the league table into the playoff hunt.
While the Club fell short of the postseason, their renewed vigor and impressive efforts throughout the summer made it clear that Hines was the man to take the Club forward. He was offered the position a month after the end of the season and accepted on the spot.
Now, the focus turns to unleashing the full potential of the Club.
“You want to build an identity, which I've said many times after games, so that people know what an Orlando Pride team looks like in the future,” Hines said when asked about his goals. “Leaving a legacy – leaving something where fans can walk away and go, ‘I was there to witness that.'
"It's not going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of time. It's going to take a lot of work, but it's something that we know that we can achieve. I think everyone can be excited about what the [future] holds for this team."
Taking time is not going to be an issue. After 13 years at Middlesbrough and eight more in Orlando, Seb Hines is ready to put in the work.