Orlando City SC’s 2018 Major League Soccer campaign has been a roller coaster. The Lions lost two of their first three matches on the season, then rebounded with six straight victories, but ultimately ended up losing their most recent two games.
Anytime a team faces this kind of inconsistency early in the season, it can severely impact the confidence level within the roster. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Lions right now.
“It’s not that we’re getting outplayed, we’re being dominated, these are one-goal games where for whatever reason we’re losing track of moments,” midfielder Will Johnson told reporters on Tuesday. “There’s two ways to go about that. You can be negative and beat yourself up or you can say ‘Hey, look, for the majority of the game we did well, we executed our game plan, we out-possessed them on the road. Let’s clean up these little mistakes in the box and we’ll be a next-level team.’”
Head Coach Jason Kreis shares the same understanding. For him, despite overall good performances, the Lions were punished in both matches by some individual mistakes and that contributes to the team’s spirits remaining high.
For the coach, the team’s attitude has been ideal and only slight adjustments and improvements are needed for the team to return to a moment similar to the one that saw the Lions win six straight matches.
“It’s the details now,” Kreis commented. “And once we put those details together and marry them with the performance we’re seeing in 90 percent of those matches, I expect real positive results here. There’s a little sense of urgency now and the energy feels right, the level of confidence feels right.”
The recent unfavorable results raised some questions around the league about what the real Orlando City is like. Is it the team that won six matches in a row or the one that, despite decent performances, still struggles to close out games?
“Right now we’re middle of the pack,” Johnson commented. “We’re winning some games, we’re losing some games. To get to that next level we got to earn that respect and that comes to executing defensive plays and getting more shutouts.”
Orlando will have an opportunity to regain its winning form on Saturday, when it hosts Chicago Fire at Orlando City Stadium. For the players, it’s a unique chance to register a convincing win and put the team on track.
“I don’t think we’re short of confidence,” goalkeeper Joe Bendik remarked. “We’re not going to let two games to decide our season. We’re going for three points and we’re going for them at home.”