ORLANDO, Fla.—Jason Kreis refused to single out any individuals among the “negatives” he saw in Orlando City SC’s back-and-forth 3-3 draw at home against the Montreal Impact, but he drew plenty of encouragement from the “positives” that prevented their second home defeat of the season.
Jonathan Spector was the late, late hero, heading the stoppage-time equalizer to make amends for breakdowns at the other end of the field earlier in the second half, as Ignacio Piatti plundered two goals in the space of 90 seconds to flip the script on the Lions and their early 2-1 lead.
Lions head coach Kreis was bitterly disappointed with his side’s defending on all three Montreal goals, and showed it at 3-2 down by switching out center back Jose Aja for US Under-20 national team star Tommy Redding.
“I think we’re still struggling with some of the [players’] decisions a little bit, when we should be playing out of the back and when we should not,” Kreis said. “But I don’t put that down necessarily to individual [defensive] players. They’re not the only ones who made some poor decisions, and we need to learn from it.
“We thought we were moving in a very positive direction, but tonight we shot ourselves in the foot, really. I felt we gave them all three goals. They were in situations where we were broken down defensively. We literally gave the ball away in poor areas of the field, and then quick transitions cost us three goals. Big, big negatives.”
Kreis was quick to point to the encouraging aspects of the game, though, with the Lions dominating the first half and then coming back with a "never-say-die" approach in the closing minutes.
“There were some really big positives for us,” Kreis insisted. “How we played in the first 45 minutes, what we were doing with the ball, the chances we created. We looked composed and managed the game well. Then, to finish in an extremely positive situation, with us reacting well and continuing to work hard and score the equalizer [was encouraging].”
Asked about Spector’s vital contribution with the stoppage-time goal, and if that was evidence of the team’s true potential, Kreis was unequivocal.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he confirmed. “One of the big, big positives for me was in the guys continuing to work really hard to work for chances that would get the equalizer. It would’ve been really easy, and I think most teams would have packed it in after giving away two such disappointing goals, but our guys kept fighting and kept believing, so we get to walk out of this with at least a point.”
Veteran striker Giles Barnes played a major role in Orlando’s first-half dominance and had a hand in both early goals, and he paid tribute to Spector’s vital late contribution.
“Spec has come up clutch for us,” Barnes said. “It’s a great header and we’ve been practicing set pieces. It’s something we feel we’re dangerous off, so you have got to take the positives from the game and move on to the next one, as the games come thick and fast now.
“It was disappointing [to get just a point], but you saw the team spirit and the team fight towards the end. It’s the way you react [to adversity], and I thought we reacted the right way.”