ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City doesn’t get much time to enjoy its first MLS win in more than two months.
Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Toronto FC was the first step toward the Lions getting back on track in league play. The club was already making strides in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, notching wins over Miami United and D.C. United to reach the quarterfinals.
James O’Connor, fresh off his first MLS win as Orlando City’s head coach, will try to keep the Lions’ run going. Orlando City faces the Philadelphia Union at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium.
“I think it’s nice to get a win, but now we’re focused on Philly, so we need to make sure we’re dialed in to what will be a very tough game against Philly on Wednesday night,” O’Connor said.
With a win, O’Connor would be the third coach this season to lead Orlando City to a 2018 Open Cup victory. Former coach Jason Kreis was at the helm for Orlando City’s win over Miami United and interim coach Bobby Murphy led the club to victory against D.C. United.
Orlando City has never made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
“It would be incredible,” O’Connor said.
“I think there’s a desperation from all of us to go as far we possibly can in the competition. I think any time we get an opportunity like that, you want to really try and grab. Hopefully we can get the rest that we need into the players and really focus on the game on Wednesday night.”
Midfielder Will Johnson said the club is looking forward to the challenge. Orlando City beat the Union 2-0 earlier in the season in the club’s only shutout victory in league play this year.
Wednesday’s match promises to be a stiffer challenge. The Union have since overtaken the Lions in the Eastern Conference table and defeated the Richmond Kickers and the New York Red Bulls to reach the quarterfinals of the Open Cup.
Johnson said the two clubs are different – and this is a different type of competition – compared to their last meeting on April 13.
“It’s an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in this club’s history, in terms of the Open Cup,” he said. “It’s something that we’re passionate about. We’re going to into Wednesday and give everything. We respect them. We think they’re a good team, but we’re at a different place than we were a few weeks ago.”
The midweek game is the second in a crammed schedule for Orlando City. After Wednesday, the Lions travel to Columbus for a match against the fourth-place Columbus Crew. After that, Orlando City has games next Thursday (NYCFC) and on July 29 (LA Galaxy).
“Recovery becomes really important,” O’Connor said. “That’s something we’re trying to get an understand of – what the recovery process has been before us and then try to look at maybe ways that we would look at recovery. I think that’s been something we had some initial conversations around.
“Again, I think the biggest thing is making sure we get as much rest into the players as we can.”
None of the starters from Saturday’s win – except for goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. – participated in Monday’s training session.
“I don’t anticipate anyone looking past Wednesday,” O’Connor said.
No official timeline has been released regarding the anticipated return of centerback Lamine Sané (quad), right back Scott Sutter (adductor) and centerback Jonathan Spector (hamstring). All three injured players are potential starters for Orlando City.
Sutter was present for Monday’s training session. Sané and Spector, who has watched recent training sessions without participating, weren’t at Monday’s workout.
When asked about the three players, O’Connor said, “It’s further away than closer. I think, for me, once that starts, I tend [to think], ‘OK, well they’re not going to be available.’ So I focus on what I have and then focus on that next game.”