SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City coach James O’Connor isn’t taking much solace from the team’s “close” performances anymore.
The Lions are back in Orlando after playing back-to-back road matches. Both of those matches – a 1-0 loss to Atlanta United and a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders – were matches where O’Connor felt the team played well enough to come away with points.
“The best way of trying to describe it, maybe, to people who aren’t involved is it would be the equivalent of coming in and working really hard for three weeks and then getting maybe 30% of your pay packet,” O’Connor said. “That would be equivalent to how you feel, you know?”
Orlando City (3-6-3, 12 points) is on a three-match losing skid heading into Sunday’s home match against expansion side FC Cincinnati (3-7-2, 11 points). O’Connor isn’t questioning the commitment of his players, but he’s ready to see results.
“Like I’ve said, we’re really close,” O’Connor said. “But I think we’re all at a stage where we’re sick of talking about, ‘Yeah, the performance was good.’ We want to get points on the board.”
Orlando City has just one win in its last six matches. Missed chances have haunted the Lions for weeks and players outside of star designated player Nani, who has missed City’s last two matches with calf inflammation, have struggled to find the back of the net consistently.
O’Connor said he’s been pleased with the performances of his players and added the team is hitting certain key performance indicators that “normally give you a win.” He said the team has to maintain its belief in its process and its mentality.
“A lot of the performances that we’ve seen are good performances and are worthy of more points,” O’Connor said. “Even some of the fellow coaches who we’ve played have commented on how well we’ve been doing. Again, people can see, but ultimately, when you’re not getting points on the board, it’s really frustrating.”
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe said the team is still confident despite the rough stretch.
“You have to look at the season as a whole, you know?” he said. “Of course, you can look at individual snapshots of the year and if you have a couple bad results, there’s always an opportunity to turn it around and could be just around the corner.
“You just have to stick together, and you’ve got to ride through these rough patches at times. I think all of us have more than enough confidence in each other that we’ll be able to figure it out.”
Centerback Alex De John, who recently returned to Orlando City’s starting XI after suffering a hamstring injury, said a win would help further the team’s confidence.
“The ability to bounce back is important in this league,” De John said. “We’ve been in situations where we’re in every game, we’ve just got to get that little final piece together.
O’Connor stopped short of calling Sunday’s match a “must-win” game. Orlando City hasn’t yet hit the halfway point of its 34-match season, though in past seasons losing skids in May have buried the Lions.
“I can’t describe how badly,” O’Connor said when asked how badly he wanted a victory against FC Cincinnati. “Even if I began to try, we would be here for about eight hours and you would be bored silly.”
O’Connor pointed to his coaching staff, which arrived at the training facility at Sylvan Lake Park at 7 a.m. on Friday after flying back from Seattle on Thursday, and said the whole club is searching for ways to be successful.
“For the whole club, for supporters, for the players, for the coaching staff, we need a win. And we want to win,” O’Connor said. “Desperately, we want to win.”
Nani (calf inflammation) was present for the portion of training that was open to members of the media on Friday, though he arrived shortly after players began warm-ups.
Carlos Ascues (quad) was training to the side. O’Connor said the team is “still waiting on him.”
LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been suspended two matches for a scuffle with NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson. That means the superstar forward will miss the Galaxy’s May 24 match at Orlando City.