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Orlando City coach James O’Connor pleased with Lions’ chance creation despite lack of wins

Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer (14) is congratulated by teammate forward Chris Mueller (9) after scoring a goal during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City coach James O’Connor has been pleased with his side’s ability to create chances – and equally frustrated with the Lions’ inability to put the ball in the back of the net consistently.

The examples are there even without looking at every match so far this season. During Orlando City’s 2-1 loss to D.C. United, star winger Nani missed a header from close range, forward Chris Mueller had a header ding off the post, centerback Robin Jansson pushed a shot wide from close range – the list goes on.

Orlando City took 16 shots against D.C. United and put five of them on target.

“If you’re not creating chances, as a coach, I think you’re a little bit concerned,” O’Connor said. “When you’re creating the volume of chances and the quality of chances that we are, we just need to put it away.

“One of these days, we’ll catch someone, and we’ll take our chances and we’ll give someone a bit of a hiding.”

The Lions (1-2-2, 5 points) have taken 46 shots in five games this season, 15 of which have been on goal. Orlando City has put its shots on target at a lower rate (32.6 percent) than the league average, which is 33.7 percent.

That’s part of the problem. Some of Orlando City’s best opportunities haven’t been put on frame. As a team, the Lions have scored six goals this season.  

“When you look at the quality of play, I mean we’ve played some fantastic football, really,” O’Connor said. “The chance creation has been good. The quality of football has been good, but we need to finish it out. We need to get points on the board.”

O’Connor added, “Honestly, when we look at it, we feel a little hard done as regards to points we actually have. But again, over the course of the season, if we maintain that level of performance, we’ll definitely get the points that we feel as if we’ve deserved.”

After Orlando City’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Impact, midfielder Sacha Kljestan said the team must be more clinical in front of the goal.

Orlando City hosts the Colorado Rapids at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“We want to win, so I think when you get chances like that, you know, you want to obviously capitalize on those opportunities,” O’Connor said. “The guys of worked exceptionally hard to create those opportunities, but we’ve got great belief in our players that they will be able to go and finish those chances.

“The pleasing thing for us has been the level of performances, the consistency. The few things that have been thrown against us that you get on with. For us, it’s just refocusing and making sure now we’re prepared for Saturday’s game against Colorado.”

Mueller question

Orlando City forward Chris Mueller provided a spark off the bench for the Lions against D.C. United and, for the most part, has been solid in the opportunities he’s had this season. Mueller has played in four games (two starts) and has two assists and a goal so far this season.

Some on social media – both fans and reporters — have seen Mueller’s play and have wondered why he isn’t starting on a more regular basis.

“I think he’s a great young player as regards to his ability to listen and to learn,” O’Connor said. “I think we’ve touched on a couple of things that we wanted him to be sort of more diligent about. I thought he did a great job when he came on Saturday. Really impacted the game. Unlucky not to score, does great for Dom’s goal.

“I think with a lot of young players, it’s teaching and learning, but his ability to impact the game, for us, can depend on the opponent and how the game will transition out. If you look at the way the game went the last sort of 30 minutes, there was a lot more space and it was easier for him to be able to come on and really impact the game.

“For us, again, it’s always the opponent, what personnel do we need to try to go and win the game and then you’re always trying to make sure you’ve got a couple of good, strong weapons on the bench to come on and impact the game, whether that’s in an offensive way or a defensive way to see it out.”

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