If nothing else, Saturday’s training session at Lake Sylvan Park provided a valuable experience in match minutes for players up and down the Orlando City roster in closed-door scrimmages with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and prestigious Montverde Academy.
First-team starters, many of which had left the field and headed back to the locker rooms by the time media were allowed into the facility, played the first 60 minutes against Tampa Bay. The second-string squad, mostly made up of reserve and Orlando City B players, finished off the final 30 minutes against the Rowdies, before another quick 30-minute session against Montverde.
Orlando City’s communications staff didn’t give out a final score to the first match, but word floating around is that the two sides played to a 0-0 draw in the first session.
Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis, who had stayed behind to watch some of Montverde’s training session afterwards, wasn’t pleased with the start he saw from his first-team lineup early in the day, but described the scrimmage as a physical and intense match-up.
“The game wasn’t a perfect game for us, for sure,” he said about the Tampa match. “A lot of difficulty with the guys just almost to control their emotions and to settle themselves down enough to really maintain possession for any decent strings of stuff.
“But we still created, I think, probably enough chances to score. I’d like to see a few more of those converted, but all in all I think it’s very typical for where we’re at in the preseason. It’s the fatigue and a little bit of mental frustration coming through in the game today. So, a lot of work to do still.”
As for Montverde, Kreis complimented the academy side as “doing an amazing thing over there, and not just the talent of the individual players, but the collective way they play is very nice.” Kreis also said he was very pleased with the second group of players that took them on for nearly 30 minutes.
“I think they did a real nice job,” he said.
Orlando City players, too, saw the challenge in facing Montverde. Forward Hadji Barry, who played up top with Carlos Rivas in the second game — the first time he has done so, he said — told us the Lions players knew ahead of time that it wasn’t going to be an easy game for them.
“If you come out here and think they’re just high school players, you're going to get beat,” he said.
The Lions returned to the training pitch this morning at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford. On Feb. 15, the club travels southwest to Clearwater for a friendly scrimmage against the Philadelphia Union.
- Pierre Da Silva was back in training with the club, and played in the second game against Montverde. Da Silva trained off to the side while the club was in Jacksonville. An Orlando City PR member confirmed it was due to concussion protocol.
- Danny Deakin and Kevin Alston both sat on the sidelines for the scrimmages Saturday. Deakin picked up a groin injury this past week in training, the PR rep also confirmed.