After a considerable amount of chances during Friday’s 1-0 loss to Atlanta United, players from Orlando City were left feeling disappointed and frustrated after conceding late and failing to score at crucial times.
The latter has been an ongoing trend for the Lions recently. Scoring only three goals in their last five games while having the second worst offense in the Eastern Conference with 22 goals scored.
For Orlando head coach Jason Kreis, the performance level was there, but the goals weren’t.
“We need to score goals, we need to score more than our opponent, it’s pretty simple,” Kreis said shortly after Friday’s game.
“I honestly think we’re performing well. I really do think that a lot of the play that we have right now is good. Unfortunately, this is a moment where you don’t have those wins to hang your hat on and to reward the players and to get collective buy-in through that. But I do think that this locker room still believes and is still together and I feel that if we perform that way like we did tonight over the rest of the season then we’re going to be just fine.”
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who made his debut for Atlanta on Friday, recorded five crucial saves for Gerardo Martino’s men to deny Orlando from scoring.
On two occasions, Carlos Rivas and Jonathan Spector connected on set pieces in the 39th and 63rd minute. The Colombian whipped in two free kicks during those times, finding the center back to head the ball from close range toward goal, but was denied twice by Guzan.
“It’s extremely frustrating. We’re attack-minded people, we want to score goals, we don’t want to be a team that draws nil-nil or looks for 1-0 wins all the time,” said Kreis.
“We want to be aggressive, and we want to end up with lots of goals. It is frustrating not to get those, but I can tell you from personal experience that’s the worst thing you can do, is to become frustrated because mentally that puts you in a bad spot. You gotta continue to believe and continue to get yourself in the right spots. Pretty soon your chances will come and you’ll take them.”
Leading goalscorer, Cyle Larin — who has eight goals in 18 games — has not scored in Orlando’s last seven games, though he missed three games during that span for serving a league suspension after getting charged with a DUI.
For Orlando City captain Ricardo Kaka, the chances have been there, but the finishing touch isn’t.
“Of course it is something we have to be concerned,” said Kaka. “I don’t know what is exactly the problem because we are creating the chances. The last game against Toronto we had a lot of crosses and tonight I think we created the chances as well, but the ball doesn’t go in. This is something that sometimes happens also in soccer, sometimes the ball hits the post and goes outside. I don’t like to talk about luck in these kind of things but sometimes that’s what happens.”
Orlando City outshot Atlanta 14-8, and only had two shots on target in the second half whereas Atlanta had three with the final being the decisive one when Hector Villalba’s goal in the 86th minute from 25-yards outside the box hit the upper-right corner of net for the winner.
Orlando’s final chance of finding the equalizer on Friday came in stoppage time when Will Johnson was able to win a ball from Atlanta’s last defender, but sent the ball high toward the stands.
“We’re trying to get numbers in the final third, more numbers, to support our two strikers. It just didn’t happen for us. It’s something we’re conscious of. We need to score more goals and give ourselves better opportunities to win games,” said Johnson. “It’s frustrating. It’s something we continue to work on. It just didn’t happen for us tonight. We had a number of good chances and we weren’t able to score.”
The Lions will have another crack at it when they face off against Atlanta United on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium at 4:30 on FOX.
(Photos by Jeremy Reper)
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