One glaring weakness for Orlando City last season was their lack of conversion on set pieces. Whether it was the balls played in or the attempt to finish, the team struggled to find the back of the net. But after scoring four goals from set pieces Saturday night, has Orlando City found a solution to this weakness?
In 2015, Orlando City took 164 corner kicks converting on just six. That's a conversion rate of 3.7 percent. Of the team's 46 goals in 2015, corner kicks resulted in 13 percent of their total goals. While that's not an atrocious number, it's one that the coaching staff would like to see higher.
Similarly, the Lions scored eight goals from fouls in 2015. However, four of those were from penalties meaning that only four came as the result of set pieces. Again, that's a number that must be higher for Orlando City in 2016 if the Lions want to take part in the postseason.
Seb Hines joined Orlando City for the 2015 season on loan with a club option to buy. While he played well in the back, he only scored one goal last season with his head. However, Hines scored four goals Saturday night against EC Bahia off of four set pieces, showing that he may be the solution to the problem.
The team's trouble with set pieces is something that the Lions' coaching staff was well aware of heading into this season and made a primary focus in preseason training. "We had a lot of practice on set pieces in the off-season," Head Coach Adrian Heath said following the win. "We wanted to change our style from last season because we didn't score enough on set pieces last year."
Prior to Saturday night, Hines' only goal for the club came late last season against the Montreal Impact. It was a right time, right place situation, where he was able to connect with his right foot into the top right corner. Prior to that goal, Hines hadn't scored for anyone since Aug. 25, 2012 against Crystal Palace. At 6-foot-2, he's one of the team's tallest players, and, with Aurelien Collin missing from the first team for much of the preseason, he would be looked to as the primary target off set pieces regardless of his performance Saturday night.
His importance to the team on set pieces is something of which the 27-year-old is well aware. "Working on the head set piece has been really important and it has really paid off," Hines said following the four-goal performance. "We have the players with the stature to do it and working has really paid off. I hope I can continue to score off of corners and set pieces and help the team."
For much of last season, Orlando City outplayed their opponents, both in terms of possession and chances created. However, the Lions' inability to convert those opportunities, many of which were off of set pieces, contributed to leaving the team short of making the playoffs.