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Orlando City coach James O’Connor not too concerned with goal-scoring drought

Houston Dynamo defender Kevin Garcia (16) and Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer (14) fight to control the ball during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando City’s goal-scoring has come to a screeching halt during its past three matches.

The Lions (7-18-4, 25 points) haven’t scored a goal since a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 1. Coincidentally, that match was also the last time star striker Dom Dwyer scored a goal – a header in the ninth minute.

Dwyer has 12 of Orlando City’s 40 goals this season (30 percent of the team’s goals) and 20 of the Lions’ 25 points this season have come in games where Dwyer has scored. Orlando City is 6-3-2 when Dwyer scores and 1-15-2 (5 points) when he doesn’t score a goal or doesn’t play.

Coach James O’Connor said he’s not too concerned with the lack of goals during the team’s past three matches because he said the Lions are still creating chances. However, he wants to see competition within the squad when it comes to finding another consistent scorer.

Midfielder Sacha Kljestan is second on the team with five goals. Defensive midfielder Cristian Higuita has three goals, including two goals from outside the penalty area. Winger Chris Mueller has three goals, which were all scored in April. Midfielder Yoshi Yotún and right back Scott Sutter also have three goals apiece.

From July 29 against the L.A. Galaxy until Sept. 1 against the Union (five games before the recent three-game drought), the Lions scored 11 goals. Those goals, in order, were scored by: Higuita, own goal, Dwyer, Dwyer, Amro Tarek (though, at the time, it looked like an own goal), Sutter, own goal, Dwyer, Sutter, Dwyer, Sutter.

O’Connor said it’s fair fans want to see another consistent goal scorer paired with Dwyer, who has played in 22 of Orlando City’s 29 games this season.  

“We can’t rely on one person to score goals,” O’Connor said.

“We need to have multiple facets and multiple people that can score goals. Also, there needs to be stronger competition within the squad. I think that’s something that we’ve looked at and we’ve thought, OK, that’s something we want to get going forward, to make sure there’s a lot of competition for places, internally.”

Orlando City scored 16 goals in O’Connor’s first nine MLS games at the helm.

“I think we’ve had chances,” O’Connor said. “I think when you look at the chances we’ve had – Dom had two one-on-ones against Kansas [City] – I think we’ve had opportunities to score. I don’t necessarily see it as a real concern. I think it’s more of a concern if you’re not creating chances and you’re not creating shots on goal. That’s when you start to think, ‘OK, we need to be concerned.’

“I think when we get opportunities, we just need to be a little bit more clinical. Take them. For us, it’s not something that I can be overly concerned about.”

Player updates

Captain and centerback Jonathan Spector and defensive midfielder Uri Rosell weren’t at the portion of training open to members of the media on Tuesday.

A club spokesperson said Spector is managing some back tightness and isn’t an injury concern and that Rosell is on a separate training schedule while his ankle is being monitored.

Midfielder Richie Laryea (hamstring) participated in warmups but trained away from the rest of the team while the team worked on finishing. Midfielder Cristian Higuita (calf) trained away from the rest of the team.

Rookie midfielder Cam Lindley is still recovering from an infection.

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