Orlando City’s All-Star midfielder doesn’t think his team has quit on the season.
Yoshimar Yotún, who has three goals and is tied with Kaká for the single-season club record with 10 assists, knows the Lions (7-18-3, 24 points) have had a rough season. They were just crushed on national television 4-0 by the Chicago Fire during a match that was never all that competitive.
“Of course, we’re affected by what happened on Sunday,” Yotún said. “Given the way the game went, it was a fair result. The only way we can get out of this hole is to keep working hard and to finish strong.”
Yotún told Pro Soccer USA he doesn’t agree with FS1 commentator Stu Holden’s assertion that Orlando City has given up.
“It was our worse game in the league, for sure,” Yotún said through a translator. “When you feel that a team has beaten you like that, there’s not much that you can do. But we believe that we have quality players. That we always go after the game, try to get points, no matter what situation we’re in, whether we’re home or away.
“I don’t agree with the comments, but we were beaten.”
Yotún added the team has stayed together through the tough season. There have been on-field instances of players shouting at each other, and after losing a 3-2 heartbreaker at D.C. United, tensions reached a boiling point with reports of a locker room altercation.
“We’re a good group,” Yotún said. “We’re going through a really hard time, but believe me when I say we’re going to put everything on the field until we don’t have one drop of sweat left.”
The road to relevance could be a long one for Orlando City. The Lions are on pace to give up a league-record 80 goals this season and are on track to finish with the lowest points total in their short MLS history.
This team was built from the ground up for Jason Kreis, who was fired in June. New coach James O’Connor is looking at this roster to see what he has going into 2019, but on Sunday questioned the character of some of the players.
“I think we have some individuals that have a good mentality and good character but unfortunately, we have too many that just don’t have the right character,” O’Connor said after Sunday’s loss. “It’s a problem for us.”
Yotún, who was on Peru’s World Cup roster this year, said there are still chances for the Lions to redeem themselves, including a home match this weekend against the Houston Dynamo. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“Obviously, we have a new coach and he brings in a new process with new ideas,” Yotún said. “We have to do our best to put those ideas and philosophies onto the pitch. He’s an intense guy, but he’s one that does things right. This is a process that we just have to work hard through. We have to continue to trust in the process.
“I’m not going to tell you that we’re going to make the playoffs next year or in two years, but we have to focus and get results. That’s all we can do.”
Defensive midfielder Cristian Higuita (calf strain) was not present for the open portion of Tuesday’s training session.
Midfielders Richie Laryea and Cam Lindley, centerback Amro Tarek and forward Jose Villarreal were also not present for Tuesday’s training session. Pro Soccer USA has asked for an update regarding the status of those players.