Orlando City just hasn’t been able to catch a break all season. Injuries, officiating issues, suspensions, and just overall bad play have killed the Lions and no real solution has been found, even with a coaching change. The Lions now sit at 7-15-2 with 23 points, currently seven points behind the Montreal Impact for the last playoff spot. With that said, how should Orlando City move forward following its ninth straight road loss?
Learn From Simple Mistakes
Orlando City has suffered from not learning from its own mistakes this season. The defense has still looked lethargic albeit with injuries being the most obvious problem there. The offense has picked up as of late but still has issues finishing in the final third. If Orlando can find a way to fix its own mistakes, moving forward will be much smoother. This all goes back to James O’Connor going to his players and fixing these mistakes. A direct focus on fixing the defensive issues that have resulted in conceding 57 goals would go a long way moving forward and giving the club a shot at the playoffs.
Don’t Let Poor Officiating Dictate Success
This has been a problem with Orlando City all season. Yes, officiating in some of the matches was at best amateur, but when players such as Dom Dwyer and Yoshi Yotún react to these mistakes, it takes a toll on the entire squad because they look up to Yotún and Dwyer as leaders. Moving forward, Orlando needs to let poor officiating go and just move on. The Lions cannot control that, so instead of harping on the mistakes, the team should focus on getting in situations where the referees can’t change the outcome of the match. Doing so will likely result in better results and better overall play.
Stay More Disciplined
Orlando City has had discipline issues throughout the entire season. Red cards and yellow card accumulation have resulted in suspensions while altercations near the end of matches have resulted in fines and suspensions as well. I have used the statement “moving forward” a lot, but it is something Orlando must do. The Lions must find ways to keep themselves out of trouble with penalties and ejections among other things. This is a mental aspect of play that O’Connor has to get across the minds of his players because playing down a man is never easy. Playing without players such as Yotún will just worsen the product on the pitch. Discipline will help in other facets such as learning from those simple mistakes and again, moving forward will be much easier if healthy leaders are on the pitch.
Treat the Last 10 Games as a New Start
If the Lions can do this, it would go a long way. Just 10 games remain in the MLS season for the Lions and that can be treated as a “new season” if O’Connor and the Lions look at it as such. Yes, the playoffs are likely out of reach after the loss to D.C. United, but the Lions are not out of it mathematically. Trailing the Montreal Impact by seven points, that can be caught up in three weeks’ time with three wins by Orlando and three losses by Montreal. The likelihood of that happening is slim, but if the Lions can find a breakthrough and move forward from their poor performances, who knows what could happen?
The season has been rough with the mid-season coaching change and the current road losing streak, but anything can happen in the sport of soccer. If Orlando City finds a way to move forward in a swift and smooth manner, success can come and hopefully points will follow.