James O’Connor felt his team was heading into the right direction entering Saturday’s game against the Montreal Impact
Despite Orlando City shelling out two draws to start the season — a 2-2 tie against NYCFC and a 1-1 result at Chicago — a return home looked like the moment to secure their first three points of the season.
But a lackluster defensive performance saw the Impact leave with the victory and Orlando finish the game surprised after losing for the first time this season.
“I think in the first two games, we were pleased,” said O’Connor after Saturday’s game. “We didn’t feel we played as well in Chicago. What we felt as if we were going in the right direction. I think today, surprised all of us.”
“We weren’t expecting to get that today. I think we’re all really disappointed with the level of the performance,” he added. “We’ve set the bar throughout [the] preseason and in the first couple of the games, higher than that. We need to own that and not try to make excuses.”
Defensive mistakes saw the Lions concede two goals in two minutes in the first 15 minutes of the game and a giveaway in the 80th minute saw Ignacio Piatti secure his double of the match.
Offensively, Orlando was outshot 19-9 and only produced two shots on target.
In the end, it was a performance that came out of left-field, according to O’Connor.
“We have to be way stronger, make better decisions and be way tougher mentally,” said O’Connor. “If you could put yourself in a situation like that where you’re 2-nil down. We did great against [New York City FC], there was a real toughness to the performance. There was a determination to go and get after the game, but we lacked that today.”
“We still had really good chances to try and get something from it, but overall our performance has come out of left field, and I really didn’t see that coming.”
Sacha Kljestan said the team felt positive before kickoff but from the start of the game, defensive lapses changed the complexity for the rest of the match.
“It felt very positive going into the game,” Kljestan said. “Felt very confident and we started the game in the worse possible way. Nearly off the kickoff, we almost gifted them a goal off our [own] possession just passing it right to their forward almost. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the day and we never really got better from that point and we weren’t good enough in the attacking third.”
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