There’s a lot of season left for Orlando City, but head coach James O’Connor has reached the point where he wants to see results.
The Lions (3-6-3, 12 points) have lost three matches in a row and have scored just one goal since the month of May began. Orlando City hosts FC Cincinnati on Sunday looking to not only turn around its recent downturn but to also reverse its years-long trend of rough matches after April.
“Ultimately, we’re getting to a stage where we have to get points on the board,” O’Connor said. “We need to get some wins under our belt.”
He added, “The emotional aspect of soccer is something that – whether it’s a supporter or whether it’s a player, I think, or a coach – the ability to have perspective becomes important. We have to maintain our belief and we have to maintain our mentality.”
Sunday’s match will be Orlando City’s first against FC Cincinnati, which joined MLS as an expansion side ahead of the 2019 season.
FC Cincinnati (3-7-2, 11 points) started strong out of the gate with a 2-1-1 record but then went through a seven-match winless skid, during which the team scored just one goal. Coach Alan Koch was fired after the seventh match of the skid and Yoann Damet took over as interim head coach.
FCC won its first match under Damet, beating the Montreal Impact 2-1 last week.
“They’re a new team, but all the players are experienced MLS players,” O’Connor said. “I think it’s interesting when you look at a lot of the expansion teams now. I think it’s a real opportunity for expansion teams to be able to go and make a stamp because of the way it’s structured now.
“I think you look at a lot of new expansion teams, they’re coming in because they’re being given quite a bit early on to be given a platform to be successful. They’ve made some good signings. They’ve got some good players. It’ll be a tough game for us.”
The match is the third game for the Lions going back to Sunday, but it’s the only home match of the trio. The other two were at Atlanta (a 1-0 loss) and at Seattle (a 2-1 loss).
O’Connor deployed a heavily-rotated lineup for the midweek match against the Sounders.
“The two away games that we’ve had, arguably, are the two hardest away games in the league,” O’Connor said. “LAFC would be the other that you’d look at.”
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe – who played just one of the two back-to-back road games – praised Orlando City’s home crowd. The Lions are 2-3-1 (7 points) at home so far this season and have fallen behind 2-0 in four home matches this season. They’ve trailed in five of their six home matches so far.
“We rely on them every home game we have to bring the energy, bring the noise and kind of support us,” he said. “They haven’t disappointed yet. So I think it’ll be a great opportunity for us, especially for [FC Cincinnati] coming down to this weather, this heat. Hopefully it’s a game we can get on them early and use the momentum of the crowd.”
Rowe wasn’t as emphatic when describing how much Orlando City – which, including its current losing skid, has just one win in its last six matches – needs a victory. Still, he said a win would help the team’s confidence.
“All you can control, all you can focus on, is today’s training, tomorrow’s training and the game on Sunday,” Rowe said. “You just kind of do what’s in your control and focus on that next game, and you hope results kind of fall in your favor and move in the right direction.”
Orlando City’s biggest issue this season, particularly during its past two matches, has been its inability to finish chances.
“We need a little bit of luck, as well,” O’Connor said of the team not finishing its chances. “I think there’s some aspects to it. I think we’ve created a lot of opportunities.
“It’s been a little bit difficult, I think, for the players when you don’t get the reward, perhaps, that you feel you deserve. I think in the games we feel as if we maybe should have a little bit more. I think through the course of the season up until now, I think we should have more points than we do.”
Orlando City vs FC Cincinnati, 3
Where: Orlando City Stadium
Watch: WRBW-65, Youtube TV (Orlando only), ESPN+
The Buzz: Orlando City is looking to snap out of a three-match losing streak with a home match against FC Cincinnati. … Defensive midfielder/centerback Carlos Ascues and designated player Nani both are questionable for the match, though Nani was training with the rest of the team on Saturday while Ascues was off to the side. … Nani is Orlando City’s top goal scorer with five goals. … Striker Dom Dwyer has gone seven matches without a goal. … The Lions broke out of their goal-scoring slump on Wednesday against the Seattle Sounders with a goal from second-year forward Chris Mueller. Orlando City has scored 14 goals this season. … FC Cincinnati is last in the league with 10 goals scored this season. Alan Cruz leads FCC with two goals. … Nine players, including Cruz, have scored at least one goal for FCC. … Cruz (left ankle), Kenny Saief (right hamstring) and Corben Bone (left shoulder) all are questionable for Sunday’s match.