In a game that saw the Lions dominate the match from the very start, all it took was Josef Martinez’s first shot on goal to seal the victory for the Five Stripes to complete the season sweep over the Lions.
For Orlando boss James O’Connor, failing to make the most out their 22 shots resulted into a disappointment in a night where playoff implications were on the line.
“Obviously very disappointed when you look at the game overall, we had enough chances to win,” O’Connor said following Friday’s game. “I think unfortunately for us tonight, we’ve played very well. We’ve had had exceptional chance creation [but] just weren’t able to take our chances, which is pretty hard to swallow, very painful evening for us.”
Orlando outshot Atlanta 22-15, but a defensive lapse in the 60th minute saw Frank De Boer’s side capitalize on a counter that saw Ezequiel Barco find Martinez to net his 22nd goal of the season.
“Even when we went down a goal, the odds were good because we knew that we were on top of the game," said defender Kamal Miller. "We knew that we had a great chance to go and win the game even [1-0] down, with 10 minutes left, in the 80th minute, we knew that we had a good chance and some more chances to tie it up.
"We knew that all it took was one goal to tie it up and then we would be right back in the game so we were just pushing very hard. Left ourselves a bit exposed at the back but of course but that’s what happens when we are one goal down, we have to push.”
Friday was the ninth time both teams met as Orlando continues to look for their first win over Atlanta. This time, however, O’Connor sensed a desperation from his players and thought they brought a fight to Atlanta.
“It’s desperately disappointing because when you look at the effort from the guys, the commitment, they’ve given absolutely everything,” he said. “There was a desperation from us tonight to go and win the game... we got right up to the ledge and just couldn’t step over unfortunately, but we believe that we’re going to step over the ledge and we believe that when we do, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”