Top Stories

Orlando City still ‘a little bit off’ but not hitting the panic button quite yet


Orlando City’s results have been way below expectations. For a team widely expected to compete for a playoff position, the Lions have grabbed just one point from their first three matches, digging a slight hole to start the 2018 season.

Still, despite the mistakes and the frustration that has come because of them, Orlando City isn’t ready to panic. At least not yet.

After sealing an ugly point in a season-opening draw with D.C. United, Orlando City has lost consecutive games against Minnesota United and New York City FC. With the losses, they sit eight points behind Patrick Vieira’s side, who lead the East through after the first three weeks of the season.

“It’s still early in the season, third game, really early, but what is particularly concerning is the points dropped at home,” Orlando head coach Jason Kreis said. “You know that when you come to play in New York City it’s going to be very difficult but those first two matches… those are the points that really can hurt you but we have to continue to look forward, we gotta continue to believe and be positive with ourselves.

“We’re still just a little bit off, for sure.”

Kreis says Orlando City has been put on the back foot in each of their three matches. Against D.C. United, it was a first half goal from Yamil Asad that preceded a red card to Victor “PC” Giro. A late equalizer stole a point from a match that was filled mistakes.

Minnesota United was a similar story. A 12th minute goal from Ethan Finlay opened the scoring before Yoshi Yotun brought the Lions back from the penalty spot. This time, though, Orlando couldn’t hold on as it was Minnesota United that struck late to seal the win.

In Kreis’s eyes, Orlando City has made big mistake after big mistake and, this early in the season, the reactions haven’t quite been there.

Saturday was more of the same. A bad backpass left Joe Bendik in no man’s land for a poor clearance and a giveaway of a first goal. A turnover led to the second, sealing a 2-0 defeat.

“The longer the game stayed 0-0, we were in it and had a chance,” Sacha Kljestan said. “The chance for Meram at 0-0 was a big one. Could have swung the game. With David Villa out and the way we tried to push the game, it would have been a great opportunity to steal three points but unfortunately we couldn’t make it happen.”

“Unfortunately for me that is three matches that I think we are giving things away,” Kreis added. “The first match we give away a goal from a throw in, then we end up with an ejection that was a poor decision. The second game, we did the same thing with giving away a cheap goal, and this game we smashed the ball to our goalkeeper and gave away our first goal. If we correct those small errors, I think we will be okay.”

Adding to the club’s case are a number of key returns and debuts. Kljestan made his first appearance for the club on Saturday after serving a suspension dating back to last season’s playoffs. Josue Colman also got his first minutes, and the young Paraguayan should prove a welcome addition to an Orlando City attack that’s been lacking.

More reinforcements are expected after the international break. Star striker Dom Dwyer and offseason signing Oriol Rosell are expected to be back after the break, Kreis says, adding more talent to the lineup. Dwyer should slot right up top for an Orlando City team that has lacked a true striker through three weeks, while Rosell’s MLS experience should make him a vital piece in a midfield that’s still adapting to one another.

 “What gives me comfort is that I still see a lot of positive things and I still believe that we will be a good team when we put it all together,” Kreis said. “We are still missing two very important players but it doesn’t change the fact that the players that are out there and who have been out there in the last three games could have and should have gotten more points.”

Kljestan says he is looking forward to the international break. It’s a good chance for the guys with their respective national teams to get away and focus on something else while building a bit of momentum. For the guys not called in, it’s a chance to refocus a bit and adapt to a team that’s rapidly changing.

The schedule gets no easier when they come back, though. The New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers await as Orlando City looks to put it all together for their first complete performance of what has been a difficult season.

“We have pressure on ourselves already,” Kljestan said. “We’ve had pressure since day one. We built this team to be a win now type of team, and we can’t wait too long to get things kickstarted before we put ourselves in a hole. The pressure is on. We know it. Everybody has to step up and everybody has to do more.”

 “We just really need something to go our way,” Kreis added, “one result, one bounce to go our way early in the game and we will move forward very quickly from that.”


Leave a Comment