Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. It’s a word we’ve heard from James O’Connor since he stepped in the door on July 2. His mission was to restore it. Find a way for this team to believe in themselves again. On Saturday night, they did just that.
“People need to understand, it’s been a really difficult time for the players,” said head coach James O’Connor following the 2-1 win against the defending MLS champions. “Like in everything in life, when you go through a difficult time, you start to get a lot of self-doubt, your confidence gets hit.”
An rare early goal, provided by Chris Schuler, and some padding right out of halftime from Dom Dwyer was that shot of confidence O’Connor was looking for.
“When you look at the quality of our play tonight, the chance-creation, that was something we were really pleased with. I thought we had some really good opportunities, good chance-creation, which was great. I thought we looked a little bit better defensively. Still have a little bit to do there.”
It wasn’t just the players. It wasn’t just the coach. 23,420 supporters showed up to urge on a team at what might have been at their lowest point. The flags, songs and smoke are enough to give any man or woman confidence, and on Saturday those fans had the team’s back.
“We’ve got one of the best setups in the entire country,” said Chris Schuler after the match. "Even one of the opponents was remarking after the game how cool it is to be able to play here in front of the fans in Orlando.”
On his first night in front of the home crowd, James O’Connor was impressed.
“I want to say a massive thank-you to the supporters because when I look at the noise that they were able to bring tonight, it was really incredible. To hear, it was exceptional at the end, really to hear just how loud it was, to really hear the support that they have for the players was really, really great.”
Before returning home on July 26, City will go on a two game road swing taking on the Union this Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup play before heading to Columbus on Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of games in a short period,” said O’Connor. “I thought the commitment and the energy that the players used tonight was great. That’s all we want to see.”