Defense DC

Lions’ Backline Stands Tall to Shutout D.C. United

Sunday night at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando City passed their toughest test of the season with flying colors.

The purple and gold confetti rained down on the crowd of 30,054 after Kaká’s 30th minute penalty kick rebound header found the back of the net. It was a story they’d seen before, but the Lions were determined to write a different ending.

On May 13th, Orlando City broke through for an early 1-0 lead against D.C. United, a lead they wouldn’t be able to translate into three points. It was an untimely injury and late defensive lapses that spelt doom for the Lions that night.

Since then, however, the team had strung together four straight games without a loss.

As Sunday’s game neared its conclusion, Orlando again found themselves holding off a furious late-game push from the Black and Red. This time, though, the defense stood tall and earned their first clean sheet since their 4-0 slashing of L.A.

“I’m not sure we would’ve seen it through about five or six weeks ago,” said head coach Adrian Heath after the game, “but I think that’s a measure of how far we’ve come as a group.”

As D.C. forwards Fabián Espíndola and Conor Doyle peppered Lions’ goalkeeper Tally Hall with shots and services into his box, the backline stood tall and cleared away every one of them. It’s something the team has repeatedly alluded to throughout their four-game unbeaten streak; how the team is gelling into one unit.

“Every game we get better as a team. Four defending together, we are a great back line. I was very happy, it was a long time since we had a clean sheet,” said Aurélien Collin.

“I thought the back four has played excellent… I thought we defended the box really well tonight. Sometimes it’s more luck than it is judgment, but I’d like to think it’s good coaching,” said Heath with a smile.

As Heath spoke at the postgame press conference, the cheers of his players could be heard from their locker room next door. They had just shut out the best team in MLS.
 

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