WASHINGTON – For all the chatter that Dom Dwyer’s move to Orlando City SC might force Cyle Larin out of the picture, both continue to find room in Jason Kreis’ starting XI.

The same couldn’t be said for Kaká on Saturday night.

Kreis opted to play Giles Barnes in the attacking midfield role behind Dwyer and Larin against D.C. United, relegating an eligible Kaká to the bench for the first time since early June.

The result, a 2-1 victory keyed by that attacking trio that snaps an eight-match winless stretch, suggests the former Ballon d’Or winner could see more time in a sub’s role.

“I wanted to see those three players play together, to be honest,” Kreis said of his decision. “I just really wanted to see if we could go with what I thought was a little fresher legs and a little bit more athleticism in this game.”

Somewhat against the run of play, Dwyer provided the service on Larin’s 19th-minute opener at RFK Stadium. Then Barnes pounced on a D.C. defensive mistake to double the visitors’ lead nine minutes later.

"It keeps defenders honest," Larin said of the lineup. "Because Giles was making runs behind the defense and able to get the ball in front of them. … And I’m able to drop and get the ball too."

Dom Dwyer-Cyle Larin duo blossoms for Orlando City as Kaka comes off bench - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/styles/image_landscape/s3/images/Larin,-Dwyer-for-Orlando.jpg

Kaká eventually came on as a 77th-minute sub and helped Orlando survive a crazy finish that included ejections to the Lions' Servando Carrasco and Seb Hines, Kofi Opare’s goal for D.C. and more than 10 minutes of stoppage time.

Seven of Orlando’s nine wins have now come either when Kaká comes on as a sub or doesn’t play at all. But Kreis said the main consideration for his decision was only what he saw on the practice field since last weekend's 4-0 loss at New England.

“The whole week we were trying to make a decision,” said the Lions’ boss. “And that’s the way we’re going to be, that’s the way we’re going to operate now, going forward. That we won’t make decisions on lineups until we feel like we have to.”

Dwyer is still in search of his first goal since his midseason trade from Sporting KC. But he at least contributed his first assist by picking out Larin with a cross from the left. Meanwhile, Larin has scored twice since Dwyer’s arrival, both while the newly-naturalized US international was on the field.

“I’ve been saying it for a while,” Dwyer said. “I really believe that we can have a really strong partnership. We’re still learning from each other and still growing. And we’re taking good steps tonight.”

Said Larin of Dwyer: “He gave me the assist and I scored, but there were a couple other plays where I gave him the ball and he could’ve scored.

“I think it’s getting better and better each game. The more I play with him, the more I know what he’s going to do.”