There are too many excuses being made for Orlando City's MLS side, and there are too many short-sighted calls by fans for heads to roll from the coaching staff to the roster to the front office. I offer an alternative:
- Performance based Pay.
- Allocate the MLS, USL, and NWSL payrolls to the teams in order of best PPG performance.
- MLS side coach and player leadership should voluntarily swap their paychecks with NWSL counterparts.
The Problem at Hand
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
With these words, Charles Dickens opened his novel, A Tale of Two Cities. However, he might as well have been talking about the 2017 Orlando City Soccer Club's constituent teams. Two of the three teams under the club are meeting the expectations of fans, and one is falling far short. As the season winds down, the USL side OCB is solidly in the playoff hunt, earning results in its last 12 consecutive matches, dating back to June 23. Likewise the Orlando Pride have earned results in six consecutive matches dating back to August 5, and has outright won their last five matches. So for those of us lucky enough to have season tickets for one or both of those teams it certainly feels like it could be the best of times.
Then consider the hapless MLS team. OCSC's MLS side is winless in their last eight matches, and has managed only two wins since the end of April. After the win on April 29, the team was sitting atop the Eastern Conference table. Now the club is sitting 10th on the table and there's no reason to expect that they will be able to avoid falling to the very bottom of the table after facing DC United at RFK Stadium next Saturday night. It certainly can't be anything but the worst of times for fans of the MLS side.
The Fans' Frustration
Many armchair pundits among the fan base, and many other social media outlets are pointing fingers and bellyaching about who is to blame for the problems of the MLS side. Arguments abound over whether the coaching staff is to blame, whether there are problems in the locker room in terms of the tactics or strategy the team should use, or whether there has been so much chaos in the Front Office in terms of people responsible for player personnel that the roster is akin to a mismatched jigsaw puzzle box containing 500 pieces from four different sets. To me, all of that is a waste of time and smacks of nothing but excuses. The club does not need excuses at this point; it needs to make a bold statement that will send a clear message to all the teams in the organization. It can also send a message to every league under the umbrella of US Soccer at the same time if they follow my recommendation for a modest proposal based on the performance of each team.
I call my proposal modest, and when judged by the standard of pure merit and performance it is the very essence of modesty. Since the modern world and the world of professional sport rarely operates on the principles of merit and performance, my proposal would mean defying the league rules of the MLS and the NWSL as well as those of the US Soccer federation. But my proposal just might send the message that the coaches and players of the MLS side need to feel as well as hear in order to quit screwing around and start playing quality football.
A Modest Proposal: Performance-based Pay
My proposal is to assign compensation by team based on each team's performance on the pitch. Thus the entire salary allocation for the MLS side within OCSC would be paid to the team that has the best performance in terms of points per match earned, the salary allocation for the USL side would be paid to the team with the second best performance in terms of points per match earned, and the salary allocation for the NWSL side would be paid to the team with the worst performance of the bunch.
Under this system, for 2017 we would add up all the DP money, Generation Adidas money, Targeted Allocation money, and MLS salary cap money from the OCSC MLS side's roster of 30 players and split it proportionally among the 20 players on the Orlando Pride roster. Likewise, Tom Sermanni and his staff would be paid the salary that is now being drawn by Jason Kreis and his assistants. After all, in a season with only 24 games, it seems pretty apparent that both Marta and Alex Morgan will finish the year with more goals scored than Cyle Larin, the leading scorer on the Orlando City MLS team. So why shouldn't they be rewarded for superior performance?
And on the flip side, of course, the MLS lads would be punished in their wallets. The 30 players on the roster would have to split the NWSL salary cap of $315,000 among them, and no single player on the team could collect more than $41,700 in salary for the season. Similarly, Jason Kreis and his staff would have to learn to live on the salary drawn by Coach Tom Sermanni and his staff.
This season the USL side would be unaffected. The USL has the second highest payroll of the three teams and sits second in terms of the points earned per match played. The Orlando Pride have earned 35 points from 21 matches (1.67 ppm); OCB has earned 36 points from 26 matches (1.38 ppm); and hapless OCSC has earned only 31 points from 27 matches (1.15 ppm).
As fans it is in our nature to want to find and assign blame when we see things going contrary to our wishes. I care not one whit for trying to place blame. I simply want to see performance rewarded and incompetence punished. That's what makes my proposal so modest, logical, and sensible. Unfortunately, the rules governing salaries in the three different leagues that Orlando City's constituent teams are aligned would probably prohibit the team from taking such a sensible approach to address the situation.
An Appeal to Team Leaders
So I call upon the two main leaders of the MLS side to voluntarily swap salaires with their counterparts on the Orlando Pride. Jason Kreis--I don't want to hear excuses; I demand results. Until you can put your team into the playoffs, I demand that you trade your salary with Tom Sermanni, who has proven he can coach his team to the highest level of performance within the club. And Kaka--I don't care where you used to play or what awards you've won. Until you score more goals and create more assists than anyone on any of the teams in the club, you don't deserve to draw the highest salary. Until you can back up your paycheck with performance that deserves it, I demand that you swap salaries with Marta. Learn to eat a little humble pie until you can whip your teammates into a band of legitimate contenders working in concert like a well-oiled machine.
That is my modest proposal. Those are my demands. Are there any other fans in the Orlando City multiverse who feel the same way I do, or am I simply a lone voice crying in the wilderness, seeking justice in an unjust world? Let me know in the comments below!