Larin Red Bulls

Adrian Heath Encouraged by Play Despite Recent Frustrations

For all the frustration festering in camp, there remain plenty of positives to take out of Orlando City's recent performances.

"I always thought even when they scored -- even when they went up 2-1 -- I said to the guys on the bench that I feel as though we can get something out of this because when we broke, we were one pass away from actually getting people in on goal," head coach Adrian Heath said after training on Tuesday. 

Sunday's game at the New York Red Bulls went mostly according to plan: striker Cyle Larin scored just three minutes in and the Lions held the Red Bulls' potent attack at bay for almost the whole night. It was an expected offensive home effort for a team with high expectations struggling to pick up points through the early going. But points aren't awarded "almost" performances, and the Lions know they have more to give.

"We've been playing in little bursts where we play a good 20 minutes or a good 25 minutes but we haven't maintained it long enough," Heath said. 

In fact, it was a span of barely ten minutes that cost City the three points. Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips combined for three goals and left their fans wondering where all that offense was during the first month-and-a-half of the season, when they managed just five goals in seven games.

Despite the loss, the Lions are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, sitting just three points behind first-place Philadelphia. They're still early in the season, but their individual performances are cause for excitement. 

"Rafael Ramos was outstanding. Cyle Larin proved again that he's outstanding. Tommy Redding did some really good stuff for a young boy. Joe Bendik was outstanding," Heath said.

Redding's play has been particularly encouraging. The 19-year-old Oviedo native has started six games and been solid at center back, coming up with big stops at big moments and rarely showing his youth. He had several blocked shots -- the Lions were credited with seven against New York -- though none matched Larin's goalline save in the second half. 

Considering they were without Antonio Nocerino and Kaká and playing in a 4-4-2 (Heath usually employs a 4-2-3-1), a slight let-down away from home is no reason to worry. And as if the Lions need more motivation, who else but the New England Revolution and those same Red Bulls are up next. 

"We're in a better position than our results are showing at the time," Heath said.

Proving it begins on Saturday.

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September 11, 2020: Major League Soccer has announced the 2020 regular season schedule through the end of September. From September 18-27, each MLS club will compete in three regular season matches. Additional 2020 MLS regular season matches will be announced pending further developments regarding travel protocols. Attendance at matches will be determined in accordance with applicable state and local guidelines.