SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City isn’t riding too high after a 5-1 victory over FC Cincinnati – the team’s first win since beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 on April 20.
In the same way, the team wasn’t too down on itself during its three-match losing skid. It’s all about staying level, said coach James O’Connor.
“For us, it’s trying to make sure that it’s not a roller coaster of emotion,” O’Connor said.
“I think we’ve had performance levels that we feel as if have been good. We’ve had instances that we need to be better at. I think, for us, trying to stay sort of even-keeled and stay sort of level and not have the roller coaster of emotion.
“If you do get that roller coaster of emotion, it can affect decision-making and we want to be cold. We want to make sure our decision-making is factually-based and is good.”
The Lions (4-6-3, 15 points) host the LA Galaxy (7-5-1, 22 points) on Friday. The five goals Orlando City scored against FC Cincinnati were the most the team has converted this season. After the match, players said the group finally took advantage of the chances it created.
Throughout the start of the season, O’Connor has been pleased with the Lions’ ability to create chances. The team shared its coach’s optimism the opportunities to score were there.
“I think we were confident,” centerback Lamine Sané said. “But just, we [didn’t get] the results. Last Sunday, I think we showed how we can play when we are focused. When we are determined.”
Nani, who leads the Lions with seven goals and four assists, also kept Sunday’s win in perspective. The former Manchester United winger is tied for third in MLS in goals and has been Orlando City’s most dangerous attacking player so far this season.
There’s still a lot of soccer to be played, Nani said. Orlando City is just 13 matches into its 34-game season. Nani said he’s looking at the race to the playoffs, and home victories matter.
“I think it is great to win, but we must understand we didn’t win [anything],” Nani said. “We’re still very far from where we want to arrive and there’s a lot of work to do. We must stay with our feet on the floor and know we’re going to have a very hard game on Friday.
“We have to be more strong, more positive and with more confidence because otherwise we’re not going to get the result. It’s very important for us to be positive with our fans and try to get our second consecutive victory at home.”
The star designated player said the team showed maturity in its win on Sunday. Nani provided an interesting perspective on why Orlando City was so successful against FC Cincinnati, especially in the second half. Four of the Lions’ five goals were scored after the break.
That’s a reversal from the Lions’ 2-0 home loss to Toronto FC. Orlando City looked listless in the second half of that match.
“We showed a team who improved a lot,” Nani said. “Who can manage the timing of the game better and know where to keep the ball, where we have to attack, to score. Where we have to make our opponent tired because when we play at home, it’s so hot. You must manage the energy, you know?
“The last game we lost at home, our problem was we didn’t manage the energy well. We ran a lot, but not good runs. At the end, the opponent [won] the game just by saving the energy and keeping the ball. We did this last game and it was the best thing I can take from our game.”
Now Orlando City is looking to build some momentum. The Lions haven’t won back-to-back matches yet this season.
“It’s difficult because LA is a good team,” Sané said about trying to string together victories. “But we play at home. We play at home and we have to win.”
New kickoff times
The kickoff times for two of Orlando City’s away matches have been moved. The Lions’ June 1 match against the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo is now at 5 p.m. Orlando City’s July 27 match against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium is at 8 p.m. Both matches now start an hour later than their original start times.