HOUSTON—The road hasn’t been friendly to Orlando City SC this season.
The Lions boast an impressive undefeated record at Orlando City Stadium, but outside of its confines they have lost three of four.
Did the midweek matchup affect Orlando City on the fatigue side of things?
“It may have,” Lions head coach Jason Kreis said. “We know it’s difficult, in this league with the travel the way it is and what you’re asked to do to play an opponent that didn’t have a game midweek when we traveled to Canada and back down south. It’s a big challenge.”
Saturday’s matchup featured a new center back pairing in Tommy Redding and Jose Aja, the latter filling in for the injured Jonathan Spector. Kreis said Spector has an ankle injury that he’s been dealing with for the past three weeks and his absence on Saturday was to give him rest for the next game.
“He’s an important player for us with his leadership and his organization,” Kreis said. “Tonight I think we lacked a little bit of that for sure.”
Midfielder Will Johnson said Orlando City SC needs to get tighter defensively on the road and limit their opponent's scoring opportunities.
“We can’t get in these games where we’re chasing the game,” Johnson said. “The four road games we’ve played, of the three we’ve lost we’ve given up the first goal and that’s really hurt us. So we need to get that first goal on the next one.”
Kreis echoed his midfielder’s thoughts, adding that Orlando City have shown in the past that they're capable of playing well, and winning, on the road.
“I think if we perform the way we have in the other three [road games] then we will get points on the road,” Kreis said. “But this one, full credit to our opponent tonight.”
Despite the back-to-back losses, Kreis isn’t worried. The Lions still have 18 points from nine games this season and sit second in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It’s part of the season. We went through a stretch where everything was happening well for us and winning games,” he said. “And now we’re going through a little stretch we’re we’ve lost two games. For me, it’s all about what we do now. Do we stick together? Do we fight? Can we react? Can we respond well next week?”