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Orlando City’s back line looking to cut errors, increase communication

New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne (7) and Orlando City defender Mohamed El-Munir (13) battle for the ball during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando City’s 4-3 victory over the Red Bulls showcased some of the best qualities of the Lions’ attack, but defensively, things were rough.

Right back Scott Sutter said the back four have had issues since the start of the season. Last week, Orlando City played without center back and team captain Jonathan Spector, who returned to full training this week after clearing concussion protocol.

“The opposition [is] always going to get chances,” he said. “Soccer’s a game a thousand mistakes. It’s just trying to get those mistakes to a minimum.

“We need to communicate better. We need to kind of be sharper and kind of push each other more on the back line. Not just the back line, but the whole team. Just kind of really push each other and demand from each other. Only that way can you improve.”

Spector said the club needs to cut out individual errors. The Lions return to action against the Portland Timbers at 4 p.m. on Sunday in Orlando City Stadium. 

“Teams haven’t beaten us, necessarily, when it comes to scoring goals,” he said. “We’ve beaten ourselves at times. We need to cut out those errors. Once we do, I think we’ll be in a much better position to win games than we have been.”

Orlando City’s back four has been different from match to match. RJ Allen started at right back during Orlando City’s match against NYCFC. Due to Spector’s concussion, new center back Lamine Sané started the Lions’ match against the Red Bulls.

In fact, the lone constant on the back line – the only one who hasn’t been subbed off at some point through the club’s first four matches – this season has been left back Mohamed El-Munir, who is in his first season with Orlando City.

 “This week, the sessions [have] been really good,” Spector said. “The guys have worked hard. We’re playing with more of a freedom and hopefully more goals will come.”

Coach Jason Kreis said things were a bit disjointed during Orlando City’s match against the Red Bulls, but stressed collective defending. He praised striker Dom Dwyer for helping out in the midfield when guys were caught out of position.

“There’s a lot of reasons why that’s happening,” Kreis said after the Red Bulls match. “I think you gain some stability when you plug in our captain and our most vocal leader and organizer in Spector.”

Spector said he’s fully recovered now.

“The team did incredibly well to get our first win,” he said. “I think it was important to get that kind of pressure that we put on ourselves off our back.”

Rocha loaned to Saint Louis FC

Midfielder Tony Rocha has been loaned to USL side Saint Louis FC, with Orlando City retaining the option to recall Rocha at any time before the loan expires on April 15.

Saint Louis FC has two matches – both at home – during the time of the loan.

Rocha came on as a substitute during Orlando’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota United. It was his 12 MLS appearance for the Lions. He made 33 appearances for Orlando City B.

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