Orlando City benefits from bench after draw against Philadelphia Union


Orlando City boss James O’Connor praised his second-half substitutes for lighting a spark during the Lions’ 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium.

O’Connor noticed a dip in energy in the second half, so he inserted three attacking options to limit Philadelphia’s scoring chances.

Josué Colmán, Chris Mueller and Stefano Pinho entered the game in the second half, and their performances drew praise from the Orlando City coach.

“It’s not just in this game; the role of the substitute is really important,” said O’Connor. “You need a sub to come in and impact the game. Sometimes when you’re winning you expect the sub to come in and help out defensively. I thought Chris did an exceptional job going forward and defending. I thought he really helped [Jonathan Spector] out there in the second half.”

“Josué… showed glimpses and movement and [Stéfano] Pinho at times was a threat,” he added. “So I think it’s pleasing to see players coming on and impacting the game but especially so late on for that to happen. That was great.”

Colmán, who entered in the 57th minute for Cristian Higuita, assisted in Scott Sutter’s game-tying goal in stoppage-time after a slick back-heel pass found the Englishmen to strike past Andre Blake.

For Sutter, he said the players that came off the bench made a big difference despite Orlando not getting the result they wanted.

“You rely on guys on the bench to make a difference in good times and bad,” said Sutter after the game. “When things aren’t going your way you need someone to come in from the bench and make that difference and tonight they did that. Even if things are going well you need someone and secure things and work hard.”

“That’s what we want from the bench, it’s what we expect from the bench. It’s not always easy when you’re not playing because you work hard day-in and day-out and two hours of play is the reward. That’s great, that’s exactly what we need. We need the guys on the bench making the difference.”

Ascues still settling in 

Peruvian international Carlos Ascues is still settling in.

Orlando City’s most recent addition played 90 minutes on Saturday and his second game with the Lions.

For Ascues, though, it’s going to take some time for him to find his rhythm, said O’Connor.

“Last week he was in the midfield for 60 minutes, tonight was his first game of 90 minutes and when you come to Orlando and are trying to get used to the heat, it’ll be a few weeks for him to settle in,” said O’Connor. “But, again, he deserves credit for the way he’s trying to adapt and push himself through.”

Ascues played 67 minutes during his debut with the Lions last week during a 2-1 loss to Atlanta United. He played that game as a center midfielder.

On Saturday, Ascues was inserted and played centerback alongside Shane O’Neill. 

It’s a lot to take in especially in two games, but according to O’Connor, Ascues’ versatility on the field is an asset for the Lions — he just needs to get acclimated to playing in Orlando.

“I think he’s someone that we envision being able to play in a couple positions, whether it’s in midfield or at the back,” said O’Connor. “I think again, for him, it’s probably a baptism of fire where he’s been thrown straight into the deep end.”

(Photo By Adrian J Photography) 

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