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Orlando City hopes to score first home win of 2019 when Lions host Colorado Rapids

Orlando City SC huddles up against the D.C. United at Orlando City Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City is winless at home so far this season.

The Lions are 0-2-1 (1 point) through three home matches in 2019. Players and coach James O’Connor have praised the team’s supporters – the Lions have an averaged announced attendance of 23,453 fans per game so far this season at Orlando City Stadium – but Orlando City (1-2-2, 5 points) has fallen behind 2-0 during every home match so far this season.

“For me, it’s very important to win at home,” centerback Lamine Sané said. “If we get all the points at home, we can go to the playoffs. For me, in my culture in Europe, when I learned football, you have to win at home.

“For me, it’s very special for the supporters because they give everything for us and I respect that.”

Orlando City will get a chance to remedy their home woes Saturday when the Lions host the Colorado Rapids at 7:30 p.m.

The Rapids have struggled through their first five matches. Colorado is winless (0-3-2, 2 points) so far and has had a player sent off in three of five matches to start the season. The Rapids are coming off a 4-1 home loss to the Houston Dynamo.

The Rapids haven’t beaten the Lions in four MLS matches.

“Listen, I don’t look at what points teams have,” O’Connor said. “I look at their threats. I mean I think you look at Kei Kamara, [Benny] Feilhaber, I mean they’ve got – [Diego] Rubio – they have multiple threats that can cause you problems.

“For us, again, it’s making sure that we’re dialed in and we’ve got the right mentality going into the game. I think people have been a little bit dismissive of Colorado. We’re certainly not going to be. They’ve got a very good coach. They’ve got some excellent players. We need to make sure that we’re dialed into that game.”

O’Connor has maintained he’s been pleased with the team’s performances, aside from City’s 3-1 home loss to the Montreal Impact, and has praised Orlando City’s ability to create chances.

Orlando City has six goals through five matches this season.

So far, the team’s biggest issue at home has been defensive lapses resulting in head-scratching goals.

Against D.C. United, O’Connor said the team fell asleep on the first goal it conceded, a header off a free kick. The Impact turned two critical defensive mistakes into goals separated by a minute. In Orlando City’s season opener, NYCFC scored its first goal against the run of play.

“I think we have to focus all the game and keep going,” Sané said. “In football, you know, you have good moments, bad moments, but I think we have to keep going.”

All four of Orlando City’s home goals this season have come in the second halves of games.

“I mean, we’ve been here before,” star striker Dom Dwyer said after the team’s 2-1 loss to D.C. United.  “Two-nil down at half, it’s happened to us quite a lot. You know, it’s something we’ve come back from. We know we’re capable, especially when we get the crowd going, we’ll get one, we know there’s more coming.

“We just kept fighting and trying to keep battling ’til the end and show the fans out there a good performance. They always show up in great numbers and unfortunately, we couldn’t get it all done.”

The Lions could find more success if they keep fighting to score Saturday. The Rapids have given up 12 goals so far this season, tied for second worst in the league.

But O’Connor wants his team to avoid focusing on past missed opportunities and Colorado’s performances so far this season.

“I think the biggest thing is, again, now not to be creating any kind of sort of storm as to what’s happened or why,” O’Connor said. “It’s just it’s totally focused on Colorado. Make sure our training and our preparation [are] right and we bring the right mentality because it’ll be a difficult game against Colorado on Saturday.”




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