O’Con­nor says pride must mo­ti­vate Lions

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Jor­dan Cul­ver

Or­lando City coach James O’Con­nor is look­ing for con­sis­tency dur­ing the last four matches of the sea­son.

Through­out his short time as coach of the Lions, he’s seen de­cent pas­sages of play.

Dur­ing Or­lando City’s 2-0 loss to FC Dal­las, for ex­am­ple, the Lions were solid through the first half be­fore crum­bling in the sec­ond half.

With noth­ing left but pride — and jobs — to play for, the short­handed Lions (7-19-4, 25 points) play the New Eng­land Rev­o­lu­tion at 7:30 p.m. to­day at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

“Your own per­sonal pride should take over,” O’Con­nor said. “The fact that you're elim­i­nated … you should want to win ev­ery day.

“Your own pride should kick in. That should el­e­vate ev­ery­thing else. My ex­pec­ta­tion is for the play­ers to have pride in their per­for­mance like we all should take pride in our work ev­ery day. I think that’s some­thing that we ex­pect to see.”

O’Con­nor is 1-9-3 in league play at the helm of the Lions. Or­lando City has given up 31 goals dur­ing those 13 matches and 19 of them have come in the sec­ond halves of those games.

“I think fit­ness cer­tainly has played a part,” O’Con­nor said. “I think the men­tal­ity has def­i­nitely played a part. I think both of those have had a big im­pact on our in­abil­ity to play for the full 90 min­utes.”

Or­lando City played New Eng­land to a 3-3 draw in Au­gust.

“I think — I keep go­ing back to it — it comes down to, what­ever New Eng­land are go­ing to do, they’re go­ing to do,” O’Con­nor said. “It comes down to our per­sonal pride and per­for­mance and how badly do we want to re­ally go and try and get that level of per­for­mance for 90 min­utes that we’re all crav­ing.”

O’Con­nor has stressed con­sis­tency in train­ing with his play­ers and that a lack of con­sis­tency in train­ing can come through dur­ing matches.

“I’m a big be­liever in that you need to train at the same level you want to play it,” O’Con­nor said. “I think that be­comes re­ally im­por­tant. I think for some of the guys, there’s an un­der­stand­ing of that. For some of the other guys, they’re still try­ing to get that un­der­stand­ing.”

Over­all, since win­ning a fran­chise-record six con­sec­u­tive matches, Or­lando City has won just once dur­ing the past 21 MLS matches. The Lions are win­less in their last 11 matches and are in last place in the Eastern Con­fer­ence.

“It is def­i­nitely de­mor­al­iz­ing, for sure,” right back Scott Sut­ter said. “I’ve never been in a si­t­u­a­tion like this and I think a lot of the guys in the locker room haven’t, ei­ther. I’ve never gone this long with­out win­ning, or to have 20 games with only the one win.

“It’s def­i­nitely been a tough sea­son, I think. Es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how much hope we had go­ing into the sea­son with the squad that we had. We def­i­nitely un­der­per­formed. It’s been tough, but we know there’s al­ways next sea­son. There’s al­ways the next game so we kind of need to like I said, try to fin­ish the sea­son off the right way, re­group in the off­sea­son and then come out all guns blaz­ing next year.”

There’s only one “right way” to fin­ish out the sea­son, Sut­ter said.

“That means get­ting wins,” Sut­ter said. “It’s no longer good enough to per­form well like I think we did [against] Hous­ton or like we did for 60 min­utes of the game against Dal­las. We just want to get wins. We just want to get points and give the fans some­thing back that sup­port us week-in and week-out.

“It’s all right if you’re play­ing and try­ing to get wins and you’re not get­ting the breaks, that’s one thing. But at some point, we just need wins. We need to get that feel­ing back that we’ve missed over the last few weeks.”

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