Despite a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake to open the 2020 Major League Soccer season on Saturday at Exploria Stadium, Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja is looking for improved precision in the final third heading into next week’s first road trip of the year.
The Lions will take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park at 9 p.m. ET — a match that may feature a familiar lineup with Nani and Dom Dwyer possibly out for week 2.
But for Pareja, the responsibility not necessarily comes down on his players creating chances but being precise in scoring opportunities.
“In the final third, we need to have precision,” Pareja told reporters in Spanish following Saturday’s 0-0 draw against RSL. “Sometimes it falls mostly on talent and what the players can develop there. Tonight, we didn’t have that moment to do that, but I believe in them and I believe that they will solve that because they have the talent, they have the energy and sometimes in soccer, creating scoring chances isn’t easy — they did that today but it’s a matter of working on that precision and we’re going to keep looking for that.”
Orlando didn’t benefit from a lot of opportunities but did have five total chances created to RSL’s three while the Lions only mustered two shots on target on Saturday.
Still, Pareja harped on the importance it was to be clinical in the attacking third.
“When you got the volume of the sequences offensively that we had in the first half especially. In the second half, the volume was not that much, we still had one but in the first half, I saw a team that was imposed in that,” said Pareja. “We were not clean in that one pass and that kept us out from getting the three points. We need to be more precise or cautiously and we will keep looking for that finish.”
Junior Urso was deployed as the team’s No. 8, playing high in the midfield and being heavily involved in the attack and at various times, linking up with Mauricio Pereyra — who for the most part played the final ball in the attacking third, including a ball to Robinho in the 83rd minute that eventually saw Chris Mueller hit a shot over the crossbar.
For Mueller, however, it wasn’t a case of how tough it was to breakdown RSL’s defense because Orlando City did exactly that, but it was mostly about finishing those plays to eventually break the deadlock.
“I think that we had our chances. We created the chances that we wanted, we had everything there for the taking,” said Mueller. “I think that in reality, we are going to focus on our game and where we can improve. I think that RSL will go back and watch the film and see where they can improve, as well.”
“From an individual standpoint, I would like to be better, at least in those individual chances,” he added. “I think the team created a lot, I thought we moved the ball a lot. We could have had a little bit more quality in the attacking third, a little bit more patience on the ball, so it could circulate and maybe find a better pass… I think that we all have to improve and learn and hope for the next game.”
Photo: Terrance Coakley / Orlando Soccer Journal
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