ORLANDO, Fla. – Frustration was writ large on the faces of Jason Kreis and his Orlando City SC players on Saturday after a 1-1 home draw with Columbus Crew SC left the Lions with even slimmer playoff chances in a season that promised so much after their flying start.
Despite out-shooting Crew SC 20-4—and 9-0 in a one-sided second half—Orlando had only Giles Barnes’ 67th-minute equalizer to show for an all-out effort that also saw them play up a man for the final 15 minutes after Harrison Afful received a red card.
Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis admitted the team’s playoff chances were now “slim” – the club sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference – but he remained adamant that the Lions still believe they have a chance and are not ready to give up on the season.
“It was a result we didn’t want,” said Kreis. “We wanted three points in the worst possible way, but I thought the performance was very good, apart from 10 minutes in the first half, when they scored. Frankly, I thought we deserved to win.”
“Everybody else out there can think we’re dead, but we’re not," Kreis said. "We don’t believe we’re dead. We still believe we have every chance to push forward and reach our objective.”
One of the players who really contributed to Orlando City's cause on Saturday was Dom Dwyer, who came off the bench a week after missing a match because of nose surgery. Dwyer showed well in his cameo, using his energy, movement, and aggressiveness to make Orlando's attack more potent.
Dwyer has yet to manage a full week’s training with his new teammates since his trade three weeks ago, however, and Kreis admitted that the inability to get his new striker familiar with playing alongside Cyle Larin had definitely been a drawback at the worst possible time.
“Yes, it is frustrating. We added Dom to help this team now,” Kreis said. “But he is also a long-term solution as well. I thought he brought a fantastic energy after he came on and he had two really good strikes that the 'keeper made some good saves on. But there is still a level of understanding that needs to come.
“We know what everybody thinks [about our playoff chances], and that is absolutely fine, but we know what we still think and believe."
Dwyer remained positive after the game, in which he managed three attempts on goal and showed he can still be a potent force up top.
“We felt we were very close to three points,” Dwyer said. “Obviously we had some chances, the 'keeper made some saves and we couldn’t put that one away at the end. But it was still a positive performance and there’s still a lot to build on.
“Of course, my couple of weeks [here so far] haven’t been ideal. I’ve been in and out and with the nose [injury]. It put me back a little bit. I got some time tonight, though, and we’re building on it. I’ve said before that Cyle is a very good player and we can do good things together.”