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Orlando City coach James O’Connor: A win is exactly what we feel we need

Orlando City SC head coach James O'Connor takes pictures with fans following a soccer match against the New York City FC at Orlando City Stadium. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City is unbeaten so far during the 2019 season.

The only problem is the Lions (0-0-2, 2 points) also haven’t won a game yet. Both of Orlando City’s first two matches were close – a controversial no-call in one match, a goal at the death in the other – but the Lions are still sitting on two points instead of six.

Coach James O’Connor said he’s seen positives in the Lions’ performances, but added a win Saturday at home against the Montreal Impact is what the team needs. The match is set to kick off at 4 p.m.

“That what was so annoying about Chicago,” O’Connor said. “We felt as if we worked really hard and we put ourselves in a really strong position to take the win. I think that’s exactly what we feel we need. If we can get that win, then I think you get a little bit of momentum.

“I think all the momentum as regards to culture, the work ethic, the attitude is all going in the right direction. Now we just need to start putting points on the board.”

O’Connor spent preseason training implementing a new system and so far, he’s been pleased with the results.

“A lot of positives,” O’Connor said. “I think when you look at the way we’ve played, I think, load to be encouraged about. I think results-wise we feel as if we should have a little bit more points. I think that’s the frustrating thing. Especially with the way it finished in Chicago. We’ve gone through, broken down, there’s a lot to be positive about.”

“I think the attitude and the application has been really good. I think when you look at the New York game, the intensity of our play, high press was very good. We adapted a little bit in Chicago. Tough conditions. So, I think the attitude has been, overall has been very pleasing from the games.”

Orlando City lost twice to the Impact last season, though O’Connor wasn’t the team’s coach for either game. Montreal (1-1-0, 3 points) won its season opener over the San Jose Earthquakes and lost last week to the Houston Dynamo.  

Ahead of Saturday’s match, O’Connor mentioned not wanting to become predictable with his lineup choices. Star striker Dom Dwyer has yet to start a match this season after dealing with a preseason quad injury and Tesho Akindele, who has started in his place, is out with a hamstring injury.

Last week, with star winger Nani in the starting XI, Chris Mueller was on the bench.

“That’s something we’ve spoken a lot about,” he said. “I think it becomes situational. You don’t want to be predictable. I think that’s probably the big thing for us. I think, when you look at a lot of the teams that have had success, they’ve been able to maybe make changes [to] personnel, week to week. Formation changes. I think, again, for us, it’s just creating that identity. Having attacking and defensive principles and using multiple ways to try and win the game.

Some players who were starters last season haven’t been involved in the team’s first two matches. O’Connor said that doesn’t mean they won’t be involved throughout the season.

“We’ve got guys that are more than capable of starting,” O’Connor said. “We had an 11-v.-11 game [Tuesday] and there’s good intensity to the work. … When you look at what we have within the squad, we’re now getting the competition that we’ve been striving for where, next man up. So, it’s great.”

O’Connor said Orlando City’s depth presents him with difficult decisions to make, but it’s better than the prospect of a team without depth.

“It’s difficult because you’re sitting down with guys who you really like and you have to make decisions, but I’d much rather have that than the other way,” he said. “Over the course of the season we’re going to need everybody to step up. Like we’ve spoken about, the next man up, when your number’s called, you need to make sure the team, the level stays at the same level or, ideally, creeps up a little bit.”




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