Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer celebrates with teammates after the Lions' win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday at Orlando City Stadium. (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports)
Orlando City’s 2018 start is the reverse of how the club began its 2017 campaign, though performance-wise, coach Jason Kreis prefers what he’s seeing from this season’s squad.
On the surface, the difference between last season’s start and this year is obvious. Orlando City (1-2-1) has just four points through the first four matches of the season and three of those matches have been at home.
Last season, the Lions roared out of the gate, winning three of their first four matches en route to a 6-1-0 start.
Of course, the hot start didn’t mean much. Orlando City sputtered down the stretch and missed the playoffs after going 4-14-9 over its last 27 matches.
Kreis said he puts a huge emphasis on how the club starts, but he did not hold up last season’s start as a shining example of how the club should open a season.
“It’s important that you continue to improve and you continue to grow as a team,” Kreis said.
“I felt like last year, we started out with tremendous results, but the truth of the matter is I don’t know if we necessarily deserved all of those results. I don’t know if we were a team that had more to give and to improve on [in] those performances.
“This year, I feel the exact opposite. I feel that our performances have been very good, haven’t gotten the results we deserve, and the fact of the matter is we have a lot of room to improve still. I think, for me, that bodes for incredibly positive things.”
Right back Scott Sutter, who was with the club last season, said everyone with Orlando City knows it’s a long road to the end of the season.
“I’d be lying if I said [the start is] not important,” Sutter said.
“Every game, every point matters. At the end of it, it might be the difference between one point or not. Or even goal difference. Everything’s big. We know the season’s long so it’s not necessarily we lost two games, it’s we learned form those experiences.”
Kreis has maintained Orlando City’s performances has been solid, despite a tough start to the year.
“We’ve been performing, playing quite well, but we haven’t been able to get the goals that change the games,” he said after Orlando City’s 4-3 win over the New York Red Bulls.