Orlando City manager Adrian Heath was at Harry Buffalo in Downtown Orlando on Tuesday night for his weekly call-in show on Real Radio 104.1 FM, having had a few days to digest the bitter loss to Vancouver from Saturday night.
The manager said that he and his coaching staff watched the tape for a second time on Tuesday, and he still believes that his Lions were the better side despite the bad result. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a playoff team from last year that Heath said he feels has improved this season, defended deep against OCSC and made it difficult for the Lions' attack to break them down in the final third.
While noting that his squad needs to do more work in and around the 18-yard box, Heath was clearly pleased with the overall performance despite the disappointment of the late winner by Octavio Rivero.
City's lack of goal production was a prevalent topic at the top of the show, but Heath says that his team will not change its approach of playing a lone striker in front of three attacking midfielders. The manager said that his team has been prolific offensively over the last several years, and he is not going to change his fundamental approach after just three lackluster outings.
Heath noted that Bryan Róchez and Martin Paterson have not been fit to play in the early season, and while the Lions will need to generate goals from somewhere, he does not want to make too much of the issue too early into the campaign.
As for Montreal, Heath noted that neither team will have their best XI available due to the FIFA international call-ups and injuries to both sides. The Impact currently has six injured players, while Orlando is dealing with knocks to Paterson, Róchez, Christian Higuita and Carlos Rivas. Depending on developments in the next several days, OCSC may not be able to field a full 18-man squad for Saturday after a rash of early season injuries.
Speaking on the combination of injuries and international casualties, Heath said that he would like for MLS to have a more sympathetic stance to teams that are hit especially hard during international breaks, such as Orlando and Toronto.
With Kevin Molino, Brek Shea, Rafael Ramos, Darwin Cerén and Cyle Larin off on international duty, the Orlando City lineup will look very different than it has in the first three matches, and Heath mentioned that he would be in favor of a cut-off on the number of players that a team can lose to international play at one time.
Heath didn't dwell on it too much, however, saying that it provides opportunities for players like Luke Boden, who have been waiting patiently for the chance to feature.
"One door closes, another door opens for somebody else," Heath said.
The manager believes that he will have a better idea what his team for the weekend will look like after Wednesday's training session, when he can evaluate the status of players like Rivas, Higuita and Lewis Neal.
When asked what the most glaring adjustment has been for his young team in its transition to MLS, Heath pointed out how detrimental cheap turnovers can prove at this level versus USL Pro. In USL, City played an expansive style without being punished for bad decisions and cheap giveaways. With the quality of play in MLS, though, Heath said that teams will turn small mistakes into goals on the other end, which his team has to learn.
And, in case you were wondering, Heath said that he believed Real Madrid were the better side in Sunday's El Clásico, but the margin in such games is small and he commended Luis Suárez for his first touch and finish on Barcelona's winning goal at the Camp Nou.