If you were on Orlando City Twitter last week, you probably saw this interview from Chris Mueller, who’s now plying his trade with Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. Mueller was beloved as any player in Orlando City history, but the end of his time in MLS, now coupled with this interview has seemingly soured the public perception of Chris Mueller amongst the Orlando City faithful. So what’s this all about?
The big revelation of the article was something we were all suspecting down the stretch last season: Mueller’s mind was clearly on other things. He signed a pre-contract agreement with Hibs early in the summer, but still had four months he had to play out with Orlando.
Mueller mentioned his frustrations with Orlando for not letting him leave early to join Hibs in the summer and that he left the club on bad terms because of that. He called not being able to leave early and waiting for the move “one of the biggest challenges of his career.”
There’s two sides to how Chris handled the situation. On one hand, I absolutely understand where he’s coming from. He signed a contract and a new opportunity and challenge was waiting for him at the end of the rainbow. Him wanting to leave early and being desperate to move on, that makes a ton of sense. At the same time, he was still under contract for Orlando, and by all accounts Hibs didn’t offer a fee that made Orlando willing to let a key player walk during a potential title chase.
The article says that Mueller was distracted by his Hibs move and was resentful of the club down the stretch. Anything he said about it not affecting his play on the field was tangibly false. Mueller completely evaporated down the stretch, contributing next to nothing as Orlando faded. He went from a reliable and productive player right in the month or so before his move to a shell of himself after the pre-contract was signed.
I get why Mueller felt the way he did, but the idea that he didn’t give it 100% or have complete focus on a team that had a legitimate shot to compete and win trophies is frustrating, especially after a career spent being one of the most hardworking, team-first player at the club. I’ll always love Cash for his time spent in Orlando, but after the way this ended, that light of love has dimmed.