Orlando City’s road woes continued Saturday night.
The Lions (7-17-3, 24 points) lost their 10th consecutive road match, falling 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City in front of an announced crowd of 19,332 at Children’s Mercy Park. The Lions haven’t won a road match since beating the Colorado Rapids on April 29.
It was a night during which the Lions failed to generate much of an attack and didn’t take advantage of their few opportunities in the penalty area. Orlando City took eight shots (three on target) compared to 16 shots (five on target) from Sporting.
“You look at the big moments, again, in the game and for us, I think we’re not capitalizing in the big moments,” Lions coach James O’Connor said.
Sporting Kansas City controlled possession, too (58.3 percent).
The two sides went into the break scoreless despite Sporting KC dominating possession (65 percent) and earning five corners. The Lions turned away a few chances, and SKC put just one shot on frame. Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik saved the shot from forward Krisztian Nemeth but bobbled it. Luckily for Orlando City, no Sporting KC player was in position to put away the rebound.
Orlando City’s best chance of the first half came in the fifth minute when Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer got in behind Sporting’s back line for a one-on-one with goalkeeper Tim Melia. Dwyer opted for a low shot instead of a chip attempt and his shot was saved.
Orlando City couldn’t deny Sporting KC in the second half.
Sporting opened the scoring in the 53rd minute thanks to midfielder Felipe Gutierrez. The Chilean midfielder received the ball at the top from the penalty area off a pass from Yohan Croizet and fired through a crowd and into the back of the net. It was Gutierrez’s first goal since March 31.
“It becomes very difficult when you don’t capitalize on your chances and then get caught with a goal like that as well,” O’Connor said.
“The big moments, we need to do a better job of capitalizing on those big moments, both offensively and defensively.”
The goal was a spark for a Sporting KC attack that was missing several key players due to international duty. Orlando City was also without three players, most notably star midfielder Yoshimar Yotún, who is with Peru’s men’s national team.
“It’s down to when we do create those opportunities, that we have a little bit of, I would say, a clinical mindset,” O’Connor said. “I don’t think anyone tries not to take it. It’s important that when [the big moments] do arrive that we take them. The only way you can do that is maybe being a little bit more intentional about trying to have a killer mindset.
“I think for us, too often, the big moments in games, we haven’t managed [them] the way we should whether it’s an opportunity we should take or whether it’s giving a cheap goal away.”
The Lions couldn’t find an equalizer, though Dwyer had another one-on-one opportunity after a solid through ball from Cristian Higuita, who was playing in his second consecutive match as a winger. Dwyer was denied by Melia again in the 60th minute.
“When you look at the opportunities Dom had tonight, I’m sure he’d say himself, he should score with them,” O’Connor said.
“I think, again, for us, when big moments arrive, you have to take them. I’m sort of repeating myself, but we need to be more clinical, but you can’t be relying on one person to score goals. We have got other people that are capable of scoring goals, but Dom’s obviously a very important player for us, too.”
That was Orlando City’s best chance of the second half. Joe Bendik came up with some saves to keep the match at 1-0, but Orlando City’s attack remained stagnant. Bendik finished the match with four saves.
Orlando City plays another match on the road on Sept. 16 against the Chicago Fire.