WASHINGTON – D.C. United and Orlando City SC are a pair of teams riding the red line in the Eastern Conference, and both are in desperate need of points as they approach the end of the season.
You would not have known that if you watched their match-up on Saturday night, though.
United comprehensively dismantled Orlando, using arguably their most complete performance of the year to push the Lions just a bit further out of the playoff picture in the east. The 4-1 victory at RFK Stadium left D.C. above the redline and Orlando three points below it with four matches remaining in the 2016 campaign.
After the match, Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis struggled to parse through his side’s performance – which led to their third loss in as many games, a stretch that has seen the Lions give up 12 goals and only score four. After a promising start under Kreis – the club emerged victorious in its first two games under his command – Orlando have faded badly.
“I don’t have the answer to that,” Kreis told the media in attendance on Saturday evening. “The players have the answer to that. [It’s] really disappointing right now, of course. The problem seems pretty obvious. We can’t allow 12 goals in three games.
“We continue to work. We’ve been working defensively since I got here. I feel like we were moving in a very positive direction and things went drastically wrong in the last three matches. We’ll continue to work, we’ll continue to press the players, we’ll continue to try to improve and do everything we can to give it our best shot.”
Orlando did not look awful in the game’s opening stanza, aside from a defensive breakdown on United’s opener. But it was the way the visitors started the second half – allowing a pair of goals in quick succession – that left Kreis distressed.
“There’s too many gaps between our back four. We’re allowing goals too easily,” said Kreis. “From my point of view, since I’ve been here, we’ve started the second half very, very poorly. I don’t know what it is. The players, we talked about it, we talk about it at halftime. We remind them, but it seems like every second half they come out and need to be woken up.
"And when you’ve given your second and third goal away it’s a little too late to be woken up.”
Kreis went on to express his concern with a potential leadership issue amongst his players.
“You know I think ultimately I’m the leader,” Kreis told MLSsoccer.com. “I think it’s on me and the coaching staff to do everything we can, especially at halftime, to make sure that they’re ready to come out in the second half. I look first and foremost at myself.
"Do I think there’s a little bit of a lack of leadership problem with this team? Yeah. It’s one of the things we identified before we came here. I think that some of the guys have done a good job to step forward and take a little bit more of a vocal leadership role, but we’re not getting enough of it yet.”