Tag Archives: James O’Connor

Let’s catch up on Orlando City

Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City SC/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

It’s been a few weeks with the new Orlando City head coach James O’Connor and I’ve been moderately quiet. I wanted to wait and observe before I gave my opinion on him. I’m not the type to see new coaches and give them one game to prove themselves. So I’ve waited it out a few games and now it’s time to get you guys all caught up.

First and most importantly, midfielder Yoshimar Yotún has returned to us after his appearance in the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the Peruvian National team. He was certainly missed and at least for our July 14th win over Toronto FC, I thought the suffering was over and we’d finally start winning again. As per our record since, this was absolutely not the case.

Captain Jonathan Spector has been back off the lineup due to more injuries. Do you guys believe me yet that our captain slot is cursed? We barely saw Kaká last season, we’ve barely seen Spector this season. Maybe we just need to not name captains from now on.

Perhaps the boldest move O’Connor has made since he joined our ranks is benching goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Orlando City signed Bendik back in 2016 and he’s been our starting goalkeeper in pretty much every game since, with the exception of a few Open Cup matches. It’s a spot he rightfully earned. Bendik has saved us from so many potentially devastating matches and was frequently featured on MLS for the Save of the Week.

This season, however, Bendik’s been really off his mark. He has a really bad habit of coming too far out of his box and without a strong enough defense to fill in behind him. That is, except when Spector’s on the field. The synergy there allowed Bendik to stretch a little more while still keeping the goal covered by the defense. Besides that, Bendik’s just allowed some pretty sloppy goals and this season we’ve seen some of our worst defeats ever as a result.

While I think O’Connor’s move to bench Bendik the last few games was bold, I applaud him for it. It was certainly a needed change. Our substitute keeper, Earl Edwards Jr., has been filling his spot and even though we’ve been taking some more Ls, I still think the change was a good one.

Of course, we can’t put all the blame on the goalkeeper. After all, it’s a team effort. Our defense is in a really weak spot right now, Once again, I have to chalk this up to the lack of depth former head coach Jason Kreis created in our 2017-2018 offseason. We lost so many defenders and instead of replacing them, we signed more midfielders. This created the lack of depth for our back line. We’ve got 3, maybe 4, defensive subs on a good day. So how many do we have when we’ve got 2 defensemen out on injury (as we have consistently had all season)?

In all, I think O’Connor is doing the best he can with what he was handed. There are tons of fans already complaining about him and saying he’ll be fired but I think that’s a little extreme. The man was handed a rock and told to turn it into a diamond. Give him some time to figure it out and keep in mind, he’s dealing with the roster we built without him. I’m not saying the roster’s in a bad place. We certainly have a lot of talent on our list, but sometimes that talent just doesn’t play nicely together.

I’m gonna be honest here, friends. You know I’m #CityTilIDie, but I don’t have too much hope in turning this season around. For now, I’m just going to watch the games and enjoy some soccer. I’ll start dreaming about playoffs in 2019. What about you?

Featured image: @OrlandoCitySC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @ShaeEliz

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Orlando sees it’s 8th straight L but hey, there’s a new head coach

Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City SC/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

Raise your hand if you witnessed the madness that ensued on June 30th, 2018. There were game upon games between the FIFA World Cup and MLS. It probably got tough to keep up with, so let me break down one match for you, at least. On this day, Orlando City SC traveled north to Atlanta for the rivals’ second meet up this season. And by just three minutes in, I was wondering why we even bothered to make the trip.

Now you know I’m #CityTilIDie, but that doesn’t make swallowing the L pills any easier. Especially not against rivals/arch nemeses. To sum up the game in as few words as possible, we got the ball, we didn’t communicate, we lost the ball, Atlanta scored. Rinse and repeat four times and you’ll have yourself a full 90 minute match.

There’s really not much else to say about our eighth straight loss that we don’t all already know. Instead of focusing on the negative and complaining about what went wrong this game, I want to highlight what went right.

First off, Chris Mueller. I’ve been saying this since the 2018 draft pick saw his first minutes of play time for this team. Mueller is our key. Whether he starts or comes in as a sub in second half, Mueller continuously brings the drive, effort and energy this team so badly needs.

Take this game versus Atlanta, even in the 88th minute while we’re staring at a 4-0 scoreboard, Mueller never stopped putting on the pressure and making attempts on goal. As long as we have a player like that on our roster, I hardly care about results because I know the passion is there. I know the motivation is there. Plus, it’s been a little bit since Mueller tucked one away for us. I know he’s just itching to get his name back on the score sheet. Just wait for it.

Second, Amro Tarek. Tarek was a new addition to our roster during the 2017/2018 off season. He brings strength and size to our severely struggling defensive line. Combined with captain Jonathan Spector, these two are quite the force. Not only did he have several great saves during this game against Atlanta, but he also saw (by my count) at least two close attempts on goal off of set pieces. This needs to be applauded. Nothing is better than defense scoring. But as a former defender, I may be bias in that opinion.

I know, if our defense is so good, why did they allow four goals? There’s really no clear answer here and I wish I had one for you. If you ask me, the problem lies with our formation.

To catch you up to speed, after our devastating loss to Montreal Impact (the first one), Orlando City said goodbye to head coach Jason Kreis. I gave this man a lot of slack for never flexing off the 4-4-2 formation, but that’s more because I feel each team requires a different formation approach. With our interim head coach, we played a 3-5-2. I can definitely appreciate this change but when we take Atlanta, who’s got a strong attacking lineup, I really think we should have opted for a bit more defense and a little less offense. Or even if we wanted to start attacking strong, once we saw 2 (or 3 since they happened back to back) goals with very few chances for comeback, we should have switched up our formation.

I digress. At the end of the day, it was another loss. 4-0 in favor of Atlanta. So Atlanta fans get to continue to gloat and I will just wait patiently for the day we get our revenge.

Now, let’s talk about this coaching situation. We have a new head coach! So many fans were eagerly hoping for Ricardo Kaká to come back to us with the title “Coach” but sadly, that’s not the case. However, we did end up signing on a former Lion. James O’Connor played for the Orlando City team back before we joined the MLS.

He’s young, he’s still growing his resume, so there’s a lot to be nervous about, but I’m willing to give him a chance to prove to us what he can do. We’ve got an amazing roster of players. The talent pool is definitely there. The remainder of the season will tell us if O’Connor is able to rally this squad to success.

Currently, Orlando City has dropped to 9th out of 11 teams in the Eastern Conference standings. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re not trailing too far behind those ahead of us. There’s still plenty of time to turn this club around and for us to see our first playoff season in MLS. So, hopefully, my next write up is about a win.

Featured image: @OrlandoCitySC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @ShaeEliz

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