ORLANDO, Fla. – Jonathan Spector caught the eye and earned his share of the plaudits, but Orlando City SC head coach Jason Kreis was quick to spread his praise after the Lions’ gritty 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
The victory makes it three wins out of three at their new Orlando City Stadium. While this latest result – earned by Servando Carrasco’s first goal for the team – was not necessarily a thing of beauty, they frustrated a potent New York attack for much of the game, and that was enough for Kreis.
“There are so many positive statements to make about the effort, level of intensity and commitment of the players to defend,” he said. “There are real, real signs of togetherness.
“We still have to do better with the ball, as we can’t afford to defend over such long stretches. But those are game management issues that we will work on and improve.”
Kreis was happy to point to Spector at the heart of a back four that has conceded just one goal in those three home outings. The experienced center back was brought in specifically to beef up a Lions defense that has been the league’s weakling for its first two years.
“Jonathan is absolutely critical,” said Kreis. “He has had four matches and he has been outstanding in all four. He is a very consistent performer who is leading the back line. He is just what we went into the offseason looking for, and I think we can say we got that one right.”
Spector was delighted with his outing against a Red Bulls side that enjoyed 61 percent of the possession but failed to make it pay, with only four shots on target.
“It’s pleasing to get the results we’re getting, apart from the one blip in Columbus,” he said. “Defensively, we have done really well, but it’s not just the back four. It is a commitment from all 11 players, starting with the strikers doing their job.
“We know we have to be better bringing the ball out of the back, but what we do have is commitment, desire and organization. I think teams are coming here and finding it really difficult to break us down.”
The center back added that the whole team is overjoyed for Carrasco, one of the most unsung players in the squad, who came on as a 17th-minute substitute after Antonio Nocerino limped off injured.
“Servando is a great guy,” said Spector. “We’re all really pleased for him to get that goal. I’m not sure he’s known for scoring many at corners but he popped up at the right place and time when we really needed it. He deserved it – he is one of those players who does a lot for the team that goes unnoticed and unappreciated on the outside. So when players like that do score, everyone is really happy for them.”