The focus for Orlando City SC this offseason, more than any player transaction or tactical adjustment, has been changing the culture.
It's why Jason Kreis designated six players – Jonathan Spector, Joe Bendik, Will Johnson, Yoshimar Yotún, Dom Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan – as the team's core leadership group.
"We all understand that we're building towards a common goal here," Spector said. "With so many new players it's good to [establish a leadership core] because guys don't know necessarily where they fit into a group. It's good to have it and to build and get to know one another a little bit better and how we fit into the group."
The leaders have spent extra time during the offseason with mental coach and head video analyst Guillermo Sanchez, discussing leadership qualities and what needs to improve in the locker room.
So with the team spending nearly two weeks of preseason in Jacksonville, Spector thought it'd be a good idea to call a good friend of his, Lt. Commander Mike Garcia, who is based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
"He's a pilot in the Navy," Spector said. "Him and I were talking and I got the idea to get a group of guys over there, sit down with the commanding officer of his squadron and a few other hand-picked members and just have a discussion on some of their core values, their culture, their leadership, how they establish teamwork and commitment that they have and how it can relate to us."
After the discussion, the players took photos and exchanged an autographed pennant for a model tail wing of a Boeing P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine plane with the VP-26 ‘Tridents' insignia. Then it was time for a flight simulator.
There were even some City and Pride fans on the base very excited to meet some of the players.
Spector said the leaders went back and discussed the meeting with their teammates.
"The big thing that he said was about building a family and making sure that each one of the members of his squadron knows that he genuinely cares for each and every one of them," Spector said. "Those guys are willing to go to war for him. Things like that resonate and how we can take things from them and implement them from here."