ORLANDO, Fla. – Winning is great, any way it happens, but there are easier ways to get the job done, according to Orlando City SC head coach Jason Kreis.
Orlando City have trailed first in all their first five games of the season, including the last two games that saw them come from behind to win over the New York Red Bulls and Timbers.
“It’s not necessarily about this game, it’s about the fact that now five matches, we’ve given up the first goal in every match and that wears on you,” said Kreis after Sunday’s game. “It kind feels like ‘Here we go again’ and it’s going to be a night where we fight from behind again and that does take a mental toll.
“The answer to me is 'OK, let’s stop giving the first goal away, let’s get the first goal and move forward from there,'” Kreis added. “Clearly, we’ve shown we can come from behind, let’s see what we can do when we’re ahead.”
As Taylor Twellman pointed out during Sunday’s broadcast on ESPN, Orlando have scored 25 goals in the final 10 minutes at home since 2015, the most in MLS in that span.
For Kreis, he can’t explain fully why that is, but emphasized the importance of taking advantage of early opportunities.
“I thought today we started out really well,” said Kreis. “This was the first home game, in my opinion, that we really started out well. We were all over them in the opening stages of the game, and I think the difference there from tonight being really a successful night and being a night that we had to struggle was scoring a goal in the first 15 minutes.”
“I think if we reward ourselves by scoring a goal at that moment, where we’re really on top of them, and I think the whole night looks completely different,” Kreis continued. “So, we’ve been trying to zero in and why we seem to be starting slow at home and improving there. For me, it’s getting the guys ready and pumped and at the end of the day, they play the games… but tonight we saw improvement, we just didn’t see the goal [early on].”
Peruvian international Yoshimar Yotun praised his teammates for turning up the intensity late, but insisted collective efforts have to be for the whole game, not just the final stages.
“We have players that can definitely do that since the beginning of a match,” said Yotun. “We have made a lot of goals in the last minutes of a match and that shows that our team is very well prepared physically, but we don't need 10 minutes, we need 90 good minutes."
Dom Dwyer, who scored Orlando’s game-winner on Sunday, had a different spin on the "cardiac kids" narrative Orlando have built. Dwyer insists scoring late goals at home is part of their arsenal mostly because of the humid weather playing a factor on opponents over the course of a game.
“I think it’s part of playing in Orlando is the weather is part of it,” said Dwyer. “I think you’ll see us score a lot of goals towards the end of games. Other teams are getting tired. We’re working hard throughout the week to make sure that it goes this way, and I think the example tonight was, us scoring three late goals is not really an accident.”