When Orlando City announced the launch of their USL expansion team, Orlando City B, they appointed Academy Coach Anthony Pulis as the team’s head coach. While Pulis has a wealth of knowledge in the sport, playing in England as well as Orlando City, his knowledge of the game goes beyond that — it’s engrained in his genes. His dad, Tony Pulis, has spent years in and around the English Premier League, initially as a player with long spells at Bournemouth and Bristol Rovers, and more recently in a managerial role as head coach at Stoke City, Crystal Palace and currently as the manager of West Bromwich Albion.
Many soccer fans focus on the differences between the sport in America and the sport in Europe, but Anthony Pulis sees many comparisons. “The actual game of football is the same anywhere you look in the world. It’s played with one ball, one referee and the pitch is virtually the same size, so I don’t think there’s too much difference between American soccer and European football in that aspect. The tactics used in England can be used in the same way over here.” Pulis’ wealth of tactical ammunition is a hybrid between influence from his dad, playing experience, and coaching work put in at Orlando City.
Pulis watches his dad’s strategies with a keen eye on what he can implement into his USL side. “The first thing that people would identify with my dad is how well organized his teams are, how structured they are and how solid they are defensively,” said Pulis. “That side of it is very important for me because I want my team to be organized, to be structured and to be difficult to break down.”
The psychological aspect of managing a team isn’t an easy task. Anthony Pulis has been a highly valued component for Orlando City and he looks to create the same qualities in the players that he will be coaching, “We’ve had three of the players that are going to be with the USL team next year in training with the first team and I think the experience for those boys has been invaluable. Just to see the training facilities, how we structure things, to meet the first team players and all the coaching staff is great for them.” He continues, “It’s a great visual for the boys that are going to be with me in the USL team to see the first team players on a day-to-day-basis, to see how they approach training, how they look after themselves in the gym, it gives them an example to look up to and to aspire to.”
A solid cohesion across the board is crucial for the success of Orlando City, “It’s important as a staff that we’re as one, we’re a team. It’s not just the first team staff and the USL staff and the academy staff, everybody’s together and we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet.” With the recent hiring of Armando Carneiro as the Club’s Chief Soccer Officer that cohesion will be more evident than ever.
The Orlando City B Head Coach has had a lot of success with coaching the City’s academy team and he looks to transfer that momentum into the USL side’s inaugural season. “From a coaches standpoint it’s important to gain experience in actually being out on the grass and doing a lot of sessions and putting the hours in. You’re always going to make mistakes, but it was good that I got to make those mistakes early on. Now I feel I’ve learnt from them and been able to hone my coaching style and use those principals with Orlando City B and in first team training.”
In planning for the 2016 season, Pulis is preparing to play his team in line with Orlando City’s system, but wants to play to his team’s strengths as well, “The most important thing about my dad’s coaching is that he is very clever at playing to the strengths of his squad. It’s going to be a little different for Orlando City B because we’re building a squad from scratch, but once we get a full squad together it’s important for me to play to the strengths and weaknesses of our team.”
Orlando City B begins play this March at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne. Season tickets can be bought here.