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Orlando City coach James O’Connor: Heated exchanges, but no post-match scuffle after DC United loss

D.C. United midfielder Luciano Acosta (10) celebrates with teammates after the final whistle as Orlando City forward Chris Mueller (17) reacts while sitting on the field at Audi Field. D.C. United won 3-2. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

BRADENTON, Fla. — Shortly after Orlando City’s 3-2 loss to D.C. United on Sunday, Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff reported on Twitter there was shouting, pushing and a face-to-face confrontation in the Orlando City locker room. 

After a training session at IMG Academy in Bradenton Wednesday, Lions coach James O’Connor said some of the players had “some heated exchanges,” but there was no scuffle. Sunday’s match ended in devastating fashion for Orlando City, when D.C. United striker Wayne Rooney stopped the Lions from scoring on an empty net and then sent in an assist that was headed home in the eight minute of second-half stoppage time by Luciano Acosta. 

“Which, you know, you’d expect that,” O’Connor said about post-match frustration. “A couple of lads were really frustrated, really irritated, which is a real positive. I haven’t seen the reports, but I’ve been told. There was no fighting, there was no punches thrown, it was just pure, sheer frustration because you’ve got guys that really care and are desperate to win games.

“That’s needed. If we get a locker room where people come in and are holding hands and singing Kumbaya when you’ve just been beat like that, that’s a real problem. It’s fantastic that we were able to see that. It’s great. It’s positive.”

O’Connor said, for him, it would be different if “people were throwing punches and stuff like that,” but he insisted that didn’t happen. 

Striker Dom Dwyer, the club’s captain for the match against D.C. United, said it’s important to bring passion to a match.

He also said there was no post-match fight. 

“If you lose the last minute of the game, there’s probably going to be some upset players,” Dwyer said. “Players are passionate, they work hard for 90 minutes. There was no fight. There was probably some yelling. There was probably some loud communication. There was no fight. From what I saw, [it] was two, three, four guys who wanted to win a game and were disappointed.” 

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