Following Orlando City’s win over the Portland Timbers, Jason Kreis lauded both Chris Mueller and Stefano Pinho, who came on as substitutes during the match and changed the complexity of the game, giving energy and momentum to the Lions.
After training on Wednesday, Kreis reiterated how important both players were in the game, but turned his praise into a bigger talking point. A point that he has made since his arrival in Orlando.
“It’s always critically important, the guys that come into matches,” Kreis said “Whether you’re winning a game or losing a game, the job that those players do is so, so important and those two guys, as well as RJ Allen, I think gave us a real positive spark at the end of that game and they’re going to be needed. They’re going to be needed in starting roles, in substitute roles. Guys that have started games are going to be in substitute roles in the future and I think that’s a lesson for everyone to learn that the contribution you can make off the bench can be massively critical.”
The idea that players must earn their starting spots has been a point that Kreis has made abundantly clear in talking to the media. Everything players do, whether it’s in practice, in games or just their conduct off the pitch, is under careful watch. If the coaching staff feels that a current bench player has proven themselves, they will earn the starting spot over a current starter.
This mentality is meant to keep all the players on their toes, with the feeling that they must earn their spot on the team and that it’s not simply given to them because of their name or reputation. In this way, Orlando’s bench can be a huge benefit for the team. Whoever is coming off the bench in games is looking to prove themselves to the staff, to earn a starting spot.
All three subs in the Timbers match proved themselves in one way or another. Mueller changed the game with his energy and his goal that started the late rally. Pinho gave the Lions a different look on the wing and brought a more aggressive approach into the game. Allen played solid defense and had the assist of the night with a perfectly weighted ball for Dom Dwyer to score the eventual winner.
Having players that make that much impact coming off the bench will be critical for the Lions team over the course of the season. If they can continue their aggressive play, pushing the starters to up their game, the team can hopefully put together more consistent play and, even more important, a healthy number of wins.
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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