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Is Orlando City Finding its Groove?

After three straight victories, the Lions appear to have it all figured out.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After the 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union, Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis stated that it was the most complete game of the year:

Kreis was indeed correct. Joe Bendik had his most solid game of the season by far with five saves and his first clean sheet while Dom Dwyer and Chris Mueller picked up where they left off last week by getting back on the score sheet.

After such a solid performance, Orlando City seems to have an identity and figured out how it can continuously earn three points each week. Here is how Orlando City won three straight games and how the Lions can (hopefully) continue this win streak for games to come.

Dom Dwyer’s Been Stellar

Dwyer’s absence clearly hurt Orlando City’s start to the season. The scoring seemed mute at times and Orlando City’s attack was mediocre at best. Without Dwyer on the pitch, Orlando City mustered just two goals in the first three games. His goal against the Philadelphia Union was one of his best so far:

With Dwyer on the pitch, Orlando City has scored nine goals in three games, with four of those goals coming from Dwyer himself. Dwyer’s presence alone has been enough for the other attacking players to get open space for shots on goal, something players such as Chris Mueller, who now has two goals since Dwyer’s return and none when he wasn’t playing, have used to their advantage.

With porous defenses like the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake on the schedule, expect Dwyer to keep up his recent play and help everyone around him as well.

Sacha Kljestan Has Regained His Usual Form

Kljestan has always been known for his amazing passing. In his debut against New York City FC, he had a rough match, but Kljestan has been up to the task of being the team’s primary playmaker.

Kljestan is tied with Justin Meram and Yoshimar Yotún for leading the club in assists as all three players have two assists. Kljestan has an 80% passing percentage on about 52 passes per game and about three key passes per game (passes that result in a scoring chance).

Kljestan was brought to Orlando City to create attacking chances. He has done so since the NYCFC game. Kljestan has helped Dwyer and Mueller create attacking chances as well as contribute to goals. If Kljestan can continue to rack up key passes and assists to his attacking players, Orlando will be a difficult team to stop in the final third.

Mohamed El-Munir Stands Out on the Back Line

El-Munir has been a pleasant surprise so far for Orlando City. El-Munir has made spectacular plays throughout the season with multiple chase-down stops and crucial tackles on attacking players.

El-Munir leads the team in tackles (33), interceptions (24), and blocked shots (eight) and also has an impressive 11 clearances so far. But El-Munir has also done a lot that isn’t shown in the stat sheet. He is always all over the pitch, stopping attacking chances and even moves up at times to create plays in the final third, with an assist to show for it. El-Munir has also been the only defender to play all 540 minutes this season, proving he is a very reliable option for Kreis, whereas the other three back line positions have all been occupied by multiple players in the first six games.

If El-Munir can improve his back-post coverage on crosses and play alongside a healthy Spector, a solid Lamine Sané, and a steady Scott Sutter, the Orlando City back line may be able to take a load off of Joe Bendik and post more clean sheets.

Orlando City has shown what it is made of over this three-game winning streak. The offense with Dwyer has been amazing, the midfield play of Sacha Kljestan, Yoshi Yotún and others has allowed for solid final third play on the offensive and defensive side and El-Munir has led a back line that has changed week-to-week. Orlando has three Western Conference opponents ahead, and if it can continue this win streak, Orlando City could establish itself as an Eastern Conference contender.