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Struggling Orlando City focuses on finishing in training

Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer crosses a ball during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Toward the end of Orlando City training Monday morning, with the sun bearing down, interim coach Bobby Murphy could be heard clearly across the fields.

He was demanding perfection from the Lions during finishing drills. He wanted the passes to be crisp and the didn’t want to see players letting up as they entered the box.

The Lions – and Murphy, for that matter – were drenched in sweat. They were in the final minutes of Monday’s training session.

If the drill wasn’t done to Murphy’s standards, it was done again.

Quality in the final third has been an issue for Orlando City throughout the club’s seven-match MLS losing streak. At first, it was an issue of chances created, but not finished. Against the Montreal Impact on Saturday, the Lions struggled to create chances.

“I think when the goals dry up, it exposes so many other issues,” Murphy said. “I think we’ve had – with the exception of Saturday, where we didn’t really create very much – in every game during this stretch we’ve created chances, you know? We just haven’t sharp in front of goal for whatever reason.

“I was just trying to keep a positive sort of mindset toward finishing and doing things the right way. So that’s at full speed and doing it right and not pretending. That’s what we’re trying to create.”

After scoring 17 goals over a six-match win streak, Orlando City (6-9-1, 19 points) has scored five goals during its seven-match losing streak in league play, which includes three shutouts.

The Lions are about to enter a brutal stretch of matches against some of the top teams in the league. First, they play first-place Atlanta United on Saturday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. After that, it’s a gantlet that includes matches against LAFC, Toronto FC, the Columbus Crew and NYCFC.

After Tuesday’s training session, striker Dom Dwyer could be seen putting in extra work. Dwyer leads Orlando City with seven goals scored in 10 appearances (nine starts), but he’s found the back of the net just once since returning from an adductor injury.

Before that injury, he had six goals in seven starts.

Against Montreal on Saturday, Dwyer didn’t take a shot.

“It’s been fine,” Dwyer said about returning from an injury that kept him out for three matches. “A fairly quick transition. Obviously, I hate to miss a couple games, but it’s nice to be back involved again and hopefully we can get to the winning ways again.

“The better we play, I think the more quality chances we’ll get. It’s about us getting quality chances and finishing them off.”

Coaching search means opportunities

Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão on Saturday said he expects to name a new head coach this week.

The thought of a new manager isn’t looming of the heads of the players.

“Every week for us is an opportunity,” Dwyer said. “We’re just trying to work hard and get better as a squad. Stay together, stay as a collective. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of changes going on right now. We’ve got a new manager coming in. We’re just trying to fix something right now and have some quality performances leading up to that.”

For Dwyer, switching coaches isn’t a distraction.

“I think it’s more of a positive,” Dwyer said. “It’s something we’re trying to build on now. We’re trying to build as a club and move forward and look forward.”

Orlando City is in its second week with Murphy running the show in training.

“We’ve got a bunch of quality professionals, so whoever’s out there, we’re going to listen and try to train and work hard,” Dwyer said. “It’s easy when you have a good group of guys, a hungry group of guys. Like I said, we’re enjoying our training right now and trying to get used to this weather and the climate and we’re looking forward to the game on Saturday.”

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