SANFORD, Fla. –
Despite Orlando City securing its first home win of the season by dropping the Colorado Rapids 4-3 in a thriller, coach James O’Connor said the team’s defending is something that will be addressed in training this week.
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe, the team’s starter through its first six matches, called the goals the Lions have conceded so far “preventable” and added things need to improve.
“I don’t feel like teams have really broken us down and opened us up and really just connected a lot or put together a fantastic sequence to punish us,” Rowe said. “I think they’re ones where we can go back and look at and say, ‘I think — individually or as a team — we could have done better on that one.’
“I think it’s encouraging to look at it like that because you would think that we’re almost there and when we put things together, we’re going to be a hard team to break down defensively, but it’s something that’s come up a few times already and it’s one that we want to try to stamp out early.”
Swedish centerback Robin Jansson agreed with Rowe. In fact, both sounded similar to O’Connor when the coached lamented the “birthday presents” given to the Montreal Impact in a 3-1 loss.
“They got easy goals,” Jansson said. “If we can put that away … it’s important to not give away things. I think when you see the other teams playing, they don’t like breaking us down and then score beautiful goals. It’s easy goals. That’s not good.
“For sure, we need to stop conceding goals like that and it will be a better game, for sure.”
Orlando City has conceded 11 goals so far this season, tied for the highest amount of goals conceded in the Eastern Conference. The Lions are second in the conference with 10 goals scored.
Jansson said he’s confident the team’s defending will improve.
He pointed to the team’s match against the Red Bulls, his first as a Lion after he was signed two weeks into the regular season, where City kept a clean sheet on the road.
“I think the first game, when I played against the New York Red Bulls, away, I think we were tight and solid as a team and a did a very good game defensively,” he said. “I think this last game, we proved we can score goals and create many chances, but we have to improve our defense.”
The Rapids first goal on Saturday came after a ball bounced off Jansson in the penalty area and fell to striker Kei Kamara.
Goals that like that have plagued Orlando City so far this season.
“I think I did some bad decisions in that game and I have to work on that, but I don’t dig my own grave here now,” Jansson said. “I just continue to work. Sometimes you [make] mistakes and [you] just get up again and keep on going. We will work hard on the defense and try to figure out [how] to do better things and continue working.
“It will take some time and I think it will be great in the end. We just need to stop letting these easy goals behind us. The positive thing is we got three points. We created chances. We’re scoring goals and that’s positive. If we keep doing that and we’re doing great defensive work, I think it will be great.”
Saturday’s comeback victory was the second time this season the Lions came back at home to secure at least a point this season. They fell behind 2-0 in their season opener against New York City FC and battled back for a 2-2 draw.
The Lions fell behind twice against the Rapids. Rowe said the team’s ability to battle back is encouraging.
“I think a lot of teams around this league, you kind of roll over and you’re just deflated,” Rowe said. “The fact that the last 20 minutes of the game, we’re able to come back and score two goals in that fashion, bring a win to our fans in our home base, it’s definitely uplifting.
He added, “But it’s one that we need to look back and not concede three goals. Figure out how we can do that and not making so hard on ourselves.”
Nani, Ruan earn Team of the Week nods
Winger Nani and right wingback Ruan were named to the MLS Team of the Week on Monday for their performances against the Rapids. Nani had two goals, including a match-winning penalty kick, and Ruan was heavily involved in the Lions attack throughout the match.