This past weekend, Orlando City traveled to Denver, Colorado to face the Rapids, the second ranked team in the Western Conference. They walked out with a scoreless draw, an impressive feat for Orlando City’s defense.
“It was an important game because in the three games since the new coaching staff took over, we’ve let in six goals,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “We’ve been harping on our team defensively but tonight to get a shutout on the road was hugely important for us.”
In training, there has been a strong focus on sharpening the defensive tactics and winning battles in the midfield, and that strength showed on the field against Colorado. “Week by week we’re getting stronger and it shows in our defensive shape and it showed here tonight,” Defender Tommy Redding said after the match. “Coming here is not an easy place to come play.”
Aside from improving the skills of the veteran defensive line, Kreis’ tactics have also brought new players into the mix. Saturday night saw the first start for defender Mikey Ambrose and the second appearance from midfielder Tony Rocha just weeks after their call up from OCB. “They both played excellent,” Redding said. “It was excellent for Mikey to get his first start… Tony came in and did very well as well.”
It was also the first start for summer transfer window acquisition Jose Aja. The lengthy defender displayed great footwork out of the back and was a true presence in the air. “I think he played great today,” said Tommy Redding who replaced him in the 76th minute. “It was his first start and he played as well as anyone could have on his [first] start. He represented the club very well.”
Overall, Orlando City was happy with their results as they move forward to back-to-back home matches. “Tonight I saw some really clear indications that the guys are getting it now,” Kreis said. “And they’re starting to do it without being yelled at.”
Orlando City will play their next match at Camping World Stadium on Wednesday, August 24th at 7:30pm against Toronto FC.