That was almost all Kreis could manage after seeing his side slump to their fifth defeat in their last seven games, to leave a once-promising season in tatters. Yet again, the Lions dominated for long periods, but yet again they failed to make their superiority pay off.
“I’m a little bit of a loss for words because I’ve just never felt like I’ve been in such an unlucky situation,” Kreis said after the game. “We just can’t seem to get anything to go our way. I feel like if we could get something to go our way right now we could get a lot of good results because we’re performing well. We’re playing well, but the struggle continues."
Orlando fell behind to an own goal from US U-20 center back Tommy Redding, failed to make the most of 16 first-half goal attempts, then slipped 2-0 behind to a goal from Brek Shea on his first return to the team that traded him for Giles Barnes at the start of the season.
“The effort the guys are putting forward in the last five or six games now is second to none," Kreis explained. "The belief they have, the willingness they have to work to the bitter end is fantastic. But for whatever reason it seems that it’s bad luck after bad luck after bad luck. To go through a game tonight where we gave them both goals and weren’t able to finish one of the plethora of chances we had is difficult. It’s a really mentally and emotionally difficult time for us.”
The head coach’s decision to start Rivas up top alongside Dom Dwyer was a surprise given that Larin had played alongside the newcome most since his trade from Kansas City last month, but Kreis insisted it was purely a tactical decision.
“I was looking for a little bit more mobility,” he explained. “I liked the combination of having Carlos, who wants to drop into the midfield a bit and into some wide spaces, with a target forward, and I really wanted to get Dom his first start at home.
“I thought that combination was the right one tonight, but what I found was that we’d have Dom making diagonal runs outside the box and looking to play the ball in and there was nobody there. That’s why the change was made at halftime. It was a tactical adjustment, not anything necessarily to do with Carlos’ play. The game was affording us more opportunities to get into wide spaces to make crosses, but we needed more numbers in the box. With Cyle, you know he’s always going to be in and around the penalty box.”
The partnership of Dwyer and Larin was ultimately one of the few consolations for Kreis on a disappointing night, but he said there is still more work to be done to find the ideal combination up front.
“Again, I think the combination for me is still a little bit of a question mark,” he insisted. “This is what happens when you bring in a new player in the middle of the season. He’s brand new to the team, he’s played under a different tactical shape his entire professional career, now we’re asking him to play with two strikers.
“I think over the first couple of games they played together, he and Cyle were taking up some of the same runs and spaces. I was interested to see what a different combination would look like. But tonight, in the second half, they showed that they can play well together.”