SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City coach James O’Connor wants his players to quickly turn the page on a poor performance against the Montreal Impact.
The Lions (0-1-2, 2 points) face the New York Red Bulls (1-0-1, 4 points) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Red Bull Arena after a disappointing showing against the Impact. The Red Bulls have finished the regular season on top of the Eastern Conference in four of the last six years.
Orlando City fell apart early against Montreal en route to a 3-1 loss. O’Connor said the Lions didn’t match their performances from their first two matches – both of which Orlando City nearly won.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure that the players don’t get too down over one performance,” O’Connor said on Wednesday. “Because when we look at the course of the preseason and we look at the course of the first two games, the energy and the enthusiasm from not just the players, but from everybody around the place we really, really positive.
“I refuse to let one game now take that away. I think the danger is because you have something like that it’s like, it becomes something bigger than it needs to be. We’re all holding our hands up. We didn’t hit the level that we needed to, but I’m not going allow all the good work that’s been done [previously] to be thrown away with just one performance.”
The message coming from Orlando City throughout preseason training was about building a group capable of withstanding adversity. That message is being tested early and winger Chris Mueller said this is a chance for the team to show its character.
“It’s been positive,” Mueller said about the team’s response. “We’ve come out, we’re trying to get a little bit of work in every day and just continue to add on what we’ve been building, right? We don’t want to get down on ourselves and negative already at this point in the season. It’s not time for any of that. We need to continue to look forward and continue to build on what the positives were and take it from there and hopefully the results will start to fall our way.”
O’Connor said the team’s poor performance against the Impact came down to two key areas: not finishing chances and gifting goals to the Impact. Orlando City put just two shots on target against Montreal and gave up two goals in 70 seconds in the first half.
“We can’t, especially at home, we can’t do that to ourselves where we give the opponent such cheap goals. You know, we’ve given them two birthday presents and we’re not taking our chances. We need to make sure that going forward that we stop giving those gifts away.
“I think in the previous two games the level of the performance was something that we’d been really encouraged by. We all felt that we didn’t hit that level on Saturday. But I think the important thing for us now it to make sure that we get a good, positive reaction and go and give a good account of ourselves in New York.”
Johnson in concussion protocol
Veteran midfielder Will Johnson is still in concussion protocol and wasn’t present for training Wednesday morning.
“It’s such a delicate sort of situation for any player that gets concussed,” O’Connor said. “I think just making sure that you’re on point with it all. But, I mean, he’s following the procedures and everything is fine. There’s no issues. It’s just, it’s obviously you need very careful with something like that.”
New Orlando City centerback Robin Jansson has been training with the team, but O’Connor said as of Wednesday he’s still hoping for Jansson’s paperwork to be finished in time for Swedish player to compete on Saturday.
“Genuinely, we’re hoping that we’re that he’s going to be able to play later on,” O’Connor said.