Orlando City SC defender Yoshimar Yotun (19) and Portland Timbers forward Samuel Armenteros (99) get tripped up as they dribble the ball during the first half at Orlando City Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Orlando City midfielder Sacha Kljestan isn’t interested in many more thrilling come-from-behind victories.
Neither is coach Jason Kreis, for that matter.
They’d both be much happier if the Lions (2-2-1, 7 points) controlled a match from start to finish. After a rousing 3-2 victory over the Portland Timbers, Orlando City has a short week to prepare for a Friday game against the Philadelphia Union (1-1-2, 5 points), who are winless in their last three matches.
“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Kljestan said. “I have a similar feeling to [Kreis] after the game. That we won and that’s a good feeling because points right now are very important for us, but performance … really not good.
“If we’re going to continue to play like that and try to fight our way back into games, we’re not going to get a lot of points this season. We’ve got to find a way to clean things up, that we have better starts to games.”
Kreis praised his club’s character and the fitness of the players in the club’s two wins and in the Lions’ season-opening draw against D.C. United. He said Orlando City has had issues defending in the middle third.
The Lions have conceded first in every match so far this season.
“From a negative side of it, you’d hope that you wouldn’t be chasing every single game,” Kreis said. “But we have been. I think that’s causing us some problems. We want to be a team that’s more in control of the match. That’s going to be difficult to do if you’re always coming from behind.”
Orlando City scored three goals in about seven minutes – starting in the 80th minute – to take down the Timbers. Kljestan said trying to win games like that every week will “end in heartbreak” for Orlando City.
“There’s never really an answer for the way things need to be fixed, because, in the end, you’ve got 11 different people who have to get on the same page,” Kljestan said. “I think the coaching staff has got to find a way to get all of us on the same page.
“You know, maybe we need to do more in training, maybe we need to sit and talk about it more, but the mentality of everybody has got to be that it’s a race to the first goal and we’ve got to be the team on the front foot from now on.”
Rosell in consideration
Orlando City has been anxiously awaiting the debut of holding midfielder Uri Rosell. He’s missed time due to a combination of fitness issues and a knee injury he sustained while with Portimonense.
Rosell returned to full training last week and trained fully on Tuesday.
“I do think now, going forward, he’s in consideration,” Kreis said. “Whether that be from a role coming off the bench or starting is to be determined, but I think he’s there or there-abouts.”
Rosell’s skills as a distributor could be the key to getting the most out of Kreis’ typical 4-4-2 diamond formation. Rookie midfielder Cam Lindley and Cristian Higuita both tried to fill the No. 6 role in the formation earlier in the season, to varying levels of success.
“Starting off in the diamond, I think he was really the missing piece, from my point of view,” Kreis said.
“Uri represents the total package for us in that position. [He] could provide us another different-looking option.”
4-2-3-1 from the start?
Kreis deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation to start the Lions’ match against Portland after starting the four previous matches in the 4-4-2 diamond.
The Lions generated chances in the early minutes of Sunday’s match, but didn’t score.
“I don’t think it was a perfect night, but it was the first time we started in that shape,” Kreis said. “So you know you’re going to need improvement. You have to be happy with the number of chances we created. I think, honestly, either shape, we’ve created a tremendous amount of goal-scoring chances in every single game.
Dwyer earns MLS recognition
Striker Dom Dwyer earned his second MLS Team of the Week nod, this time being named to the starting XI. He has three goals in two matches since he returned to the starting lineup. The Lions are 2-0 with him on the pitch.
A strong squad for Week 6. 💪
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 9, 2018