ORLANDO. Fla. — Was it the stadium? Was it the new mentality of the team? Or was it the growing confidence of striker Cyle Larin that allowed Orlando City SC to storm back from conceding a late goal and find a dramatic stoppage-time winner in their 2-1 home win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday?
Head coach Jason Kreis insisted it was a touch of all three as his Lions set a league record with their fourth straight victory to open a new stadium.
For Larin, he also became the first striker to score 35 league goals before his 22nd birthday, and he was quick to point to the lift the team is getting from the nonstop support of the fans inside the raucous confines of the “Purple Palace.”
“[The fans] were very important,” the striker said. “They were going from the first minute of the game to the last. After LA scored, they kept going and we calmed down and started playing again.
“LA’s a great team and they had a spell where they started playing and got comfortable, but we got our chance in the 90th minute and we finished it.”
Orlando’s newly forged never-say-die mentality was also on display in the closing minutes, as they shook off the blow of Romain Alessandrini’s brilliant equalizer to make it 12 points out of 12 from their home outings to date.
“I think this year the mentality of the team is a lot different,” Larin added. “We work for each other more and we don’t give up on any plays. We are always in the game and we keep fighting even if we are losing. We don’t stop.
“When you win a couple of games your confidence grows. We know we still have to get better, but we keep working on that in practice, and the more we work, the more we get better.”
Kreis insisted he was “content” with the team’s start to the season but also wanted to see them manage the end of games better.
“That would be the right word,” the head coach explained. “I’m not happy or over the moon about the situation we are in right now but I am pleased and proud of the players. The team’s chemistry and camaraderie is very pleasing and it’s very nice to work with a team like that.”
The coach was also quick to credit the stadium – and the non-stop fervor of the fans – in giving his players a big boost in the vital closing stages after the Galaxy looked like they were on the way to grabbing a point.
“For me, there are tactical moments and things that you want to have happen as you go through the season,” Kreis said. “One of those is to allow a late goal and see what the reaction is like. I was really, really pleased that we showed a positive reaction and belief within the team, and the crowd was certainly a part of that.”