O'Connor shrugs off Orlando City's scoring issues: "Our belief is there"

Dom Dwyer - Orlando City - after the 2018 Open Cup quarterfinals

SANFORD, Fla. – Dom Dwyer may be in the midst of a scoring drought heading into Sunday’s crucial rivalry match against Atlanta United, but Orlando City head coach James O’Connor is confident his star forward — along with the team’s other attacking options — will turn up for the upcoming stretch.

“If somebody doesn’t score on a particular game, I think people want to say [Dom] hasn’t scored, or he hasn’t done this,” O’Connor said on Wednesday. “We have every confidence in Dom, Tesho [Akindele], Nani, Chris Mueller. We feel as if we created a good amount of chances in games.”

Dwyer, who has three goals in 10 games for the Lions this season, hasn’t scored in five consecutive games for Orlando heading into this weekend at Mercedes Benz Stadium (2:30 pm ET | FOX; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada). Of those games, he’s started three games while coming off the bench twice for Orlando.

But Sunday’s match at Atlanta followed by a midweek cross-country trip to Seattle on Wednesday, will be an important stretch for Orlando, O’Connor said, adding that this two-game set are probably the two toughest away games in the league.

“The biggest thing for us is making sure the understanding of attacking principles and defensive principles is really nailed down,” said O’Connor. “Especially for a period when you’re going into two probably the toughest away games in the league – going in Atlanta away, Seattle away, which are really two tough away games. So there needs to be good understanding of what you’re going into.”

Offensively, Orlando have relied largely on Nani, who’s produced a team-leading five goals and four assists in 10 games for the Lions. They were, however, shut out for the first time at home last weekend to Toronto FC, but O’Connor isn’t concerned with Orlando's offensive woes.

“The biggest thing for us is our belief doesn’t waver in the players whether somebody scores or doesn’t score,” added O’Connor. “For us, our belief is always there for the players. Whether somebody scores in the game or misses a chance or doesn’t score in the game. For us, our belief in the players doesn’t fluctuate sort of by game. Our belief is there, we expect them to try really hard and to perform what we’re asking them to do.”