In a game that looked to stoke the fires of Jason Kreis’ hot seat a bit more, Orlando City pulled out a miraculous win over the final 10 minutes of their match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday to keep the team on their winning ways.
It wasn’t by any means conventional. The Lions had to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a match that not much offensive production was had until the latter parts of the game. For the most part, the game was frustrating on both ends of the pitch.
However, the team pulled back two goals in the span of two minutes and, through the individual effort of Dom Dwyer, the Lions pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat.
The biggest point made after the match, which was echoed through everyone from the team that spoke after the game, was the true character of this Orlando City team.
“I think we have to be really happy with the character,” head coach Jason Kreis said of his players. “The character of the group, the character of the individual players that don’t give up and continue to fight. That was a big piece of what we were looking for, going into the offseason was to try to improve that facet, and I think we’re showing signs that we’ve done that.”
The true nature of the team’s character comes from their persistence to strive throughout the game to get a result. The never-say-die attitude that has earned this team the “cardiac cats” moniker rings. The constant will to make the Orlando City fans proud of the product on the field. That is, in the players words, the character of this Orlando team.
“We’re not going to give up,” forward Dom Dwyer said after the game. “That never-say-die attitude. I think you can’t really count us out ever, to be honest. We’re showing a lot of character in three, four home games already this year, so we’ll keep pushing.”
Another aspect of this teams character, one that midfielder Yoshi Yotun touched on, is the fact that despite giving up the first goal in every game so far this season, the Lions have fought their way back into games and, most recently, ended up pulling out victories at the end of the day.
“It looks like we are a team that is getting used to this type of situation,” Yotun said, “We have to go out and make good results happen. Unfortunately we’ve been down in all the matches we’ve played so far but that proves that we have a great mentality and we have to maintain that from minute 1 until minute 90.”
Above all else, this Orlando City team is still a work in progress. The players are still finding their comfort level with each other and the coaching staff is still tinkering with tactics to best fit their players. However, the most integral part of this team up to this point is how they want to play as a team.
“It’s a group of 11 guys,” said forward Chris Mueller, who scored his first MLS goal in the 80th minute. “It’s not just Dom, it’s not just me, it’s not just Sacha [Kljestan]. The guys all came together and it was a team effort.”
The team’s collective character has been on display since the beginning of the season and has helped them through some of the rough patches early on. As the season continues, the team will improve and with their collective mentality backing them, this could only be the beginning.
What’s next? Orlando City travels to take on the Philadelphia Union on Friday at Talen Energy Stadium at 8 p.m. The game will broadcast on ESPN.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City SC)
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