James O’Connor emphasized the importance of finally putting points on the table heading into Sunday’s game against expansion side FC Cincinnati.
In the midst of a four-game winless streak and lackluster offensive production, the former was snapped while the latter turned up for Orlando City, with a pair of goals from Nani and Tesho Akindele to spearhead the Lions to a 5-1 victory over Cincinnati in front of an announced attendance of 22,341 at Orlando City Stadium.
“There was a couple of things I thought we needed to be a little sharper on and areas that we needed to play in,” said Orlando coach James O’Connor. “I think the players deserve enormous credit for the mentality and the way they went on and perform in the second half, I thought they were excellence.”
Cincinnati could have taken an early lead in the 21st minute when Emmanuel Ledesma’s shot hit off the crossbar, which resulted off a turnover from Lamine Sané.
Darren Mattocks eventually opened the scoring moments later in the 24th minute for FC Cincinnati when he rifled a shot from close range past Robin Jansson and Sané and goalkeeper Brian Rowe.
The Lions (4-6-3, 15 points) equalized in the 37th minute when a ball played from Will Johnson connected with Tesho Akindele, finishing the play with a right-footed strike past Richey.
In the second half, Orlando’s offense exploded with four goals.
Orlando retook the lead in the 50th minute when a VAR decision called for a penalty when Kendall Waston brought down Sané inside the box during a corner kick. Nani’s penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Spencer Richey, but the Portuguese star capitalized on the rebound to give the Lions the 2-1 lead.
Nani notched his second goal in the 59th minute when a run from Ruan connected with the Orlando captain to slot the ball for the 3-1 Orlando lead.
It was Nani’s team-leading seventh goal of the season.
“The important piece is not to get too carried away,” added O’Connor. “We just need to maintain our focus and perspective is going to be the biggest thing we’re going to need this year. We’re following a process, you need to add some perspective to that, but I thought the finishing was very clinical today.”
Akindele also secured his second goal of the game when he made it 4-1 in the 64th minute.
Dom Dwyer, who entered the game in the 66th minute for Nani, made it 5-1 in the 82nd minute, snapping a seven-game scoring drought.
Nani, who missed Orlando City’s last two games because of a calf injury, returned to the lineup on Sunday against FC Cincinnati. Meanwhile, Sacha Kljestan was not named to Orlando’s game day roster due to squad rotation.
Up next for Orlando
Friday vs. L.A. Galaxy at 7 p.m. at Orlando City Stadium.
24′ CIN – Darren Mattocks (Eric Alexander)
37′ ORL – Tesho Akindele (Will Johnson)
50′ ORL – Nani
59′ ORL – Nani (Ruan)
64′ ORL – Tesho Akindele
82′ ORL – Dom Dwyer (Josué Colmán)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Brian Rowe, João Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Ruan; Will Johnson, Sebastián Méndez, Cristian Higuita; Nani (c), Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller.
Orlando City Bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Josué Colmán, Uri Rosell, Dom Dwyer, Sacha Kljestan, Kamal Miller, Kyle Smith, Beni Michel.
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