On Wednesday, Orlando City took to the pitch to scrimmage against their first MLS opponent of the year-- the Philadelphia Union. The results were a 3-3 draw after 135 minutes (City lead 3-2 after 90), with goals scored by Carlos Rivas, Will Johnson, and Cyle Larin. As the team starts to face MLS opponents, the start of the regular season inches closer. Larin said the team is getting better every game.
“I think it was good. I think everyone went out there and gave it their best, and it’s getting better every game,” Larin said. “We have different guys coming into the lineup, and everyone is getting to know each other again, and I think it was good attacking wise, but we’re getting better defensively. Little mistakes, but I think as a team, we’re getting a lot better than before and I think we don’t give up as easily.”
For Larin, the most important part of the preseason is maintaining his fitness and making sure that he is doing whatever he can to help the team. For him, that means sharpening his attacking skills, while still knowing when to drop back and help the midfield.
“I think it’s making sure I score goals and making sure I finish most of my chances, and I’m being quicker than the defenders,” Larin said. “And working on my defense work on the field, I know it helps my team and that we get better chances.”
Larin noted that the team’s passion seems stronger this season-- they’re taking more chances, and their pushing plays. They aren’t giving up, and that’s helps create chances. They’re also working on their defensive skills, so that the goals that put them ahead will lead to wins.
“I think everyone doesn’t give up on plays anymore, every play counts,” Larin said. “And I think defensively we’re a lot better than last year. Everyone’s working together and everyone has one goal—that’s to make sure we win a lot of games this year and make the playoffs.”
Kreis has had the full offseason and preseason to imprint his philosophy on this team, and Larin said that it has strengthened their game.
“It works and everything we do in training, we take to the field. And it works,” Larin said. “It’s just putting it into the game and getting used to everything he’s teaching us. And I know that comes with playing more games and playing together with these guys. It’ll work, when we do what he says we’ll get chances off of it.”
Orlando City has another scrimmage this weekend against Toronto FC. For some, the results aren’t that significant-- as the team gears up for the regular season, the focus is more on tactics and development than on winning. But Larin wants to win them all.
“I think those games are very important—we want to win those games,” Larin said. “When you’re winning those games, it moves on towards the season.”