Orlando City players’ confidence has not been any higher this season. The Lions are pushing to build on the momentum when they travel to face D.C. United Wednesday.
“The energy has been positive,” Benji said Tuesday prior to a training session. “Everyone is confident because we’ve got a good amount of games that we’ve won. The energy is pretty high.”
The Lions, who last took the pitch on June 1 for an MLS match, have been busy during their three-week-long break advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, defeating USL’s Memphis 901 FC on the road and the New England Revolution at home in extra time.
“For us, we feel like there were certain games that maybe we didn’t get our reward,” Orlando City coach James O’Connor said, acknowledging the winless streak before the Lions’ recent surge. “It’s nice that the players have been able to get that reward. I think the performance levels have been very good, so it’s just a case of building on that.”
According to Michel, to keep building on its recent success, Orlando City (5-7-3, 18 points) just needs to “keep playing the way [they] have been playing.”
“Playing with confidence,” Michel said. “Making sure we have each other back and just enjoying ourselves on the field. Doing what we do, playing the game we love and scoring goals.”
While Orlando City has won four of its past five matches, D.C United (7-4-6, 27 points) has drawn three of its last five. However, the last time these two clubs faced each other in late March, D.C. United escaped on the road with a 2-1 victory.
“D.C. is a good team,” Orlando City forward Chris Mueller said. “We’ve still got that first game, when they came here [Orlando,] in the back of our minds. We definitely want to go there with that in mind and go for the three points.”
English star Wayne Rooney leads D.C. United with eight goals this season, tied with Orlando City’s Nani and three others for fourth in MLS.
Defensively, D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid is one of the best. Hamid leads the league in saves thus far in 2019 with 67 and is second in MLS with seven shutouts.
“They’re a very good team. They obviously have very good players,” O’Connor said of United. “I think they possess a lot of attacking threats. We just need to be very mindful going into the game of the threats they pose.”
Although D.C United poses a challenge on both ends of the field, Michel and the Lions look to continue playing confidently.
“They’re a good team, but they’re beatable,” Michel said. “If we just play the way we’ve played, then we can find ourselves successful and come out with three points.”
Lions recall Stajduhar
Orlando City recalled goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar Monday from his loan at Tulsa Roughnecks of the United Soccer League.
Stajduha had been with Tulsa since March 15, starting 11 matches for the Roughnecks. The 21-year-old had originally signed with Orlando City after playing for the club’s U-23 Academy Team.