As entertaining it is to watch Orlando City usually rally to grind out victories, James O’Connor doesn’t want that to be the occasional theme for Lions going forward this season.
Orlando continued to leak goals as it found themselves trailing for the fourth time this season at home. An area of concern for O’Connor despite his side grinding out a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
“That’s something that we’ll be speaking about,” said O’Connor. “You don’t want to be conceding three goals as exciting and entertaining it is for everybody to win. And it is, it’s great, but we don’t want to be having that every week – I certainly don’t.”
After setting a league record for most goals allowed in a single season with 74 last year, Orlando finds itself leading the Eastern Conference in that statistical category with 11 goals conceded this season alongside the Montreal Impact.
The Lions started Saturday’s game with a three-man back line featuring Robin Jansson, Lamine Sane, and Carlos Ascues, who left the game in the 30th minute after suffering a hamstring injury, O’Connor confirmed.
That immediately changed Orlando’s formation from a 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3 and saw the Lions struggle with it as the Rapids were able to pounce on two goals in the second half to retake the lead.
But O’Connor doesn’t think Orlando’s defensive struggles fall mostly on the formation change but rather on the decision making from its personnel.
“If it’s the back the four, if it’s the back three, it’s understanding where [the] space is and making sure we deny it,” said O’Connor. “But there’s certainly, looking at next week there are some big decisions that are going to have to be made around that.”
“Our understanding and our defensive principles need to be better whether it’s a back three or back four, we’ve got experienced players, so we just need to make better decisions,” he added.
Chris Mueller, who gave Orlando an offensive boost, said the team can’t get too comfortable despite winning late.
“I just don’t think there’s any room for complacency in this team especially,” said Mueller. “I think that last year I came into the league and it was different, but I was a little bit less experienced. I want to take the lessons that I’ve learned from last year and try to apply them to this season and keep helping the team moving forward.
But on the other side of the coin, while O’Connor agreed Mueller made an impact, the Orlando City coach agreed that defensively they allowed Colorado to come back into the game.
“I think there’s a couple of instances where maybe our decision making is poor, a little bit higher up the field and then we get really punished when we get dragged around the field.”
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