SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City coach James O’Connor is determined to keep the intensity up during his team’s training sessions.
Preseason training – something O’Connor didn’t get to oversee last season because he was hired during the summer – has been about establishing a culture. After two weeks in Bradenton, O’Connor wants to maintain what he’s built so far.
Players have already spoken about the foundation O’Connor is trying to lay down, with midfielder Will Johnson saying the team’s identity needs to be blue collar.
“Reinforcing everything we’ve been working on,” O’Connor said Tuesday. “At this stage, the conditioning work is, I would say, most of it has been done. Now it’s a case of really sort of driving home the principles, the expectations. The intensity in training [Monday] was fantastic.
“So again, it’s trying to manage that and make sure then that the players who are training are being professional and looking after themselves with rest and recovery because when you’re training as hard as we are, we need to make sure that we manage their bodies correctly.”
The Lions won their second preseason scrimmage of the year, defeating Louisville City – O’Connor’s former team – 1-0 at Orlando City Stadium on Wednesday. The scrimmage was closed to the media after the first 15 minutes, but Orlando City announced a 1-0 score, thanks to a goal from new acquisition João Moutinho. He scored off a rebound after a shot from Tesho Akindele, another new player, was saved.
Orlando City has one more closed-door scrimmage before the Orlando City Invitational, which kicks off Feb. 16. The Lions will play the Philadelphia Union at ChampionsGate on Tuesday.
O’Connor said earlier this week the team performed well against the New York Red Bulls in its first preseason scrimmage, which ended in a 1-1 draw. He added he’d like to see the Lions make better decisions in transition.
“We’ve done some video work, we’ve done some demonstrations, we’ve done some hard training sessions, so it’s a process we keep going through, but I have to say, enormous credit to the players so far because we’ve been really pleased with their attitude,” O’Connor said.