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Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 3-2 win over San Jose

Apr 21, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer (14) kicks the ball to score his 100th career professional goal against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City (4-2-1, 13 points) won its fourth match in a row Saturday in Orlando City Stadium by defeating the San Jose Earthquakes (1-3-2, 5 points). Here are three things we learned from the 3-2 victory:

1. Let’s appreciate all aspects of Dwyer’s game

Yes, Dom Dwyer scores when he wants (five goals in four games is no joke), but he’s been integral to Orlando City’s success in other ways. When he’s not scoring, he’s setting up his teammates.

Against the Red Bulls, he made a run to the top of the box to free up Will Johnson for a tap-in.

During Orlando City’s 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, Dwyer’s goal ended up being the game winner, but his hold-up play is what led to the Lions’ second goal.

He threw his body between the ball and center back Francois Affolter near the halfway line and found Yoshimar Yotún. Without Dwyer holding things up and waiting for Yotún, that second goal doesn’t happen.

“I think it’s my job not just to score goals, but to hold up the play,” he said. “Support people and bring people into the play. I just try to do that the best I can and obviously I think if I do that well, we’re going to get chances. We have a very talented side, a lot of weapons and we can score a lot of goals.”

Orlando City coach Jason Kreis, who has touted Dwyer’s hold-up play and sacrificial runs for a while, said Dwyer’s match against San Jose was fantastic.  

“The work he’s willing to put out there, to throw his body into situations … I mean he’s really putting his body into dangerous situations to hold the ball up for us and to see that turn into the second goal was great,” Kreis said.

“To see him rewarded through all that work to score the third goal was spectacular.”

2. Yotún, Higuita form dynamic duo

Kreis said he wanted to see more control in the middle third, and he’s gotten his wish thanks to the combination of Yotún and Cristian Higuita.

Yotún’s two long passes to Chris Mueller were delivered with pinpoint accuracy and both led to goals. Yotún leads the Lions with four assists so far this season. Higuita, who didn’t see a yellow card for a second match in a row, had two interceptions and three tackles.

“Yoshi’s been in really solid and consistent form for us this entire season,” Kreis said.

“He came in last year and I think adjusted to the league probably as quickly, if not quicker, than any person I’ve ever coached. To see him taking a step on in the beginning of the season doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.”

Higuita came off in the 84th minute because both of his calves cramped up.  

“He performed really well again tonight,” Kreis said Saturday. “He was absolutely spectacular last week, arguably Man of the Match at Philadelphia. He came here tonight and really laid it all out there for us.”

So what does this mean for defensive midfielders Uri Rosell (who made his Orlando City debut on Saturday) and Johnson (a right back for now)? It means Kreis will have some tough lineup choices to make in the future.

3. Meram’s value is in more than just goals

Justin Meram, who scored 13 goals for Columbus Crew SC last season, started the season playing up top and has since moved back to his more natural position on the left wing. He’s come off the bench in the last two games.

He hasn’t scored a goal yet, but he’s been extremely valuable for Orlando City. His through ball is what set up Dwyer’s goal against San Jose. He provided leadership early on with both Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan out.

His teammates gave him an opportunity to find the back of the net against San Jose, but his penalty kick was saved. Against Portland, he had a shot saved from point-blank range. Against the Red Bulls, he had a goal wiped away because he was in an offside position. He had good looks against NYCFC.

Kreis said Meram is a competitor who “desperately” wants to do well for Orlando City.

“Of course, he has some angst about wanting to do well and do well now,” Kreis said. “We’ve been talking about that over the past two weeks. I thought he came in, obviously he plays the pass to Dom that provides the third goal, which is a spectacular pass and then would love to have seen him be able to finish his penalty.

“But, on the other side of it, maybe that’s too easy. Maybe he needs to score one that’s a bit harder to get him really going.”

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