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Orlando City can take some confidence from win over Miami United

Orlando City captain and centerback Jonathan Spector on Wednesday got his first match minutes since April 8. (Mark Thor - Orlando City SC)

Orlando City defeated Miami United 3-0 at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah. It was a win over an NPSL side in the U.S. Open Cup, but it was the first victory for Orlando City since a May 6 win over Real Salt Lake. Here are three things we learned from the match:

Tough centerbacks

Before Wednesday’s match, Orlando City played NYCFC without a true centerback in the lineup. Amro Tarek was on international duty, captain Jonathan Spector was recovering from a concussion, Chris Schuler broke his arm and Lamine Sané hurt his knee.

Spector and Schuler each played a half in Wednesday’s win. Spector’s distribution was solid – and led directly to Orlando City’s first goal – and if Schuler was ailing while playing this his arm wrapped in a cast, he certainly didn’t show it.

At one point he tried to win a ball in the penalty area and didn’t shy away from contact with United defender Daniel Navarro. Navarro ended up landing on Schuler’s back and Schuler simply shrugged him off.

Tony Rocha has played well as a substitute CB and played a full 90 on Wednesday, but Orlando City needs its true centerbacks playing again.

“It’s great,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said about having Spector back on the pitch. “He’s a terrific leader and you can hear him communicating back there and trying to organize. I was really happy to get him back involved and hopefully we can move forward now.

“You have to be a little bit nervous because this is the first time he’s been put under real duress so we’ll see how he reacts over the next couple days.”

Kreis was pleased with what Schuler was able to do, too. 

Sharp passing

It took a good chunk of the first half for the Lions to get going, but eventually, the passing this club is capable of was on full display.

The first goal of the match was one of the best examples of what Orlando City can do:

A pass from Spector to midfielder Sacha Kljestan, a 1-2 between Kljestan and Josué Colmán, a feed from Kljestan to RJ Allen on the right side of the penalty area, an inch-perfect cross from Allen and a clinical finish from Stéfano Pinho.

That’s the kind of build-up play Orlando City is constantly looking for and the finish was the opposite of what has plagued Orlando City for weeks.

The passing in the final third was just as good on the second goal, a left-footed blast from Dillon Powers. Kljestan assisted on that one, then followed that up with a steal and another sharp pass to PC for the exclamation point on the match.

“I think in the first half we showed moments of kind of the same story, where we get into the final third with relative ease and [then] just not making the right decisions to have real, quality scoring chances,” he said.

Confidence boost

It was one win over an NPSL side in the U.S. Open Cup.

Still, in one game, Orlando City matched its goal-scoring total from its previous four matches.

“We just need goals right now,” Kreis said with a chuckle.

The goals came from Pinho – who needed to find the back of the net again – PC and Powers. For the first time since May 13, someone not named Cristian Higuita scored a goal for the Lions.

“There’s a lot about relaxing,” Kreis said. “When you’re in the final third, when you’re in the penalty box – to be able to take a breath, pick out the right moment and the right spot and hit it. I think we have too much anxiety. We’ve had too much anxiety and so I’m real hopeful that this will calm us down.

“Really, the goals came, from my point of view, by taking the extra passes. It wasn’t about, ‘Oh, I’m in front of the goal, I’m going to rush this decision and try to score from a narrow angle.’ Instead, [it was], ‘I’m going to make that extra pass and it’s going to be an easy goal.”  

The Lions will breathe easier if this momentum carries all the way to Canada.

“It’s a confident moment for us,” Kreis said. “It’s a moment that we needed, desperately.

“It’s been a difficult run here for four games where we’ve been so positive about a lot of good things that we’re doing, but to walk away from four games in a row with no results is disheartening. I think this was a really, really critical result for us, which, hopefully we can now build on for Saturday.”

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