One’s ability to adapt to change can be pivotal to their success. This season, adapting to change at Orlando City can mean different things depending on who you ask.
For Will Johnson, he is adapting to a new coach’s ideology. “It feels like preseason when we’re trying to understand James and get his ideas implemented into our group. It’s very much a work in progress, but we’re doing everything we can to help him.”
Johnson said it takes time to implement new ideas, systems and formations.
“We have taken a fair bit of criticism and punishment and all the things that come with losing games, but that’s what you need. You need James [O’Connor] to do a full evaluation of the full season to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“When there’s this much change in the course of a season, it’s difficult to grind through those challenges,” Johnson said. “It’ll be fun to see how [O’Connor] continues to grow now that he has seen this group for a while now and how he can fix us and turn us into a winning team.”
For O’Connor, everything is new after coming in mid-season. O’Connor said that the difficulty of not having a preseason with the team is being unable to instill the coaching staff’s values and beliefs about culture and mentality from the start.
“'Culture' to me will mean something completely different to you or to maybe some of the players,” O’Connor said. “Mentality, to me, I have a certain value and meaning around the word ‘mentality’, so it’s trying to share the understanding of what those words mean to us and then create that as a group and make sure the group dynamic is where we want it to be.”
According to O’Connor, players are adapting to the change in culture and mentality at different paces.
“Expectations are really important and behaviors, again, are really important. So coming in midway through the season, from what our expected behavior would be to what it has been, I think has been a very interesting dynamic to work through.”
However, he says that it has been a good learning experience for preseason next year.
Individual players also have their own challenges to adapt to. For Lamine Sané that change was going from the Bundesliga in Germany to Major League Soccer. Sané said MLS is “different than Europe because in MLS they run a lot, totally different in Europe. It’s more technical and the ball runs, and here you have to be more focused on the game.”
One thing that stood out to the former European player was the difference in traveling within MLS compared to traveling in the Bundesliga.
“The flights are very long. In Europe when you travel, it’s two hours and then you play in Europa League or Champions League. Here you can fly seven hours for one game, it’s unbelievable.” Sané said. “You have to adapt, it’s the job.”
Last week against Houston, Sané played his first game for Orlando City since June 30.
Orlando City will face FC Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Toyota Stadium. The game will be on TV27 at 8 pm.