While Orlando City won’t play a match this weekend, that doesn’t mean time off for the Lions. This week, head coach James O’Connor took the team to IMG Academy in Bradenton for a mini training camp of sorts. It’s been a week full of hard work as the team prepares for the final stretch of the season.
“I think it’s huge. For us it gives us an opportunity to get the guys together, spend a few days where we can manage the training load, push them a little bit harder,” O’Connor said following an intense morning training session. “That’s something we want to try to utilize over the few days is to push a little bit harder, to train towards fatigue a bit more.”
Having the team all in one place for an extended period of time gives O’Connor and the coaching staff the ability to do some different things.
“I think for the players they are exciting about coming down and spending some time together and training hard. I think we can manage the rest, we can manage the field intake, it really gives us the ability to sort of push, which is fantastic.”
The team has also used the week to integrate a handful of players who have been missing due to injury.
“I think for us it will give us a chance to get the ones who are carrying knocks back,” O’Connor said. “RJ [Allen] has been dealing with a concussion, we’ve had Yoshi [Yotún], Sacha [Kljestan], [Jonathan] Spector, Lamine [Sané], so I think it gives us an opportunity to be able to push them, try to get a closer look at where they are in their recovery.”
With those players coming back into the fold, this week has been the first time that O’Connor has had to full squad together since his arrival.
“Even when we’ve been traveling we’ve never had the full squad. This gives us a chance to take the full squad, which is very powerful.”
While the team builds toward Atlanta next Friday night at Orlando City Stadium, there is also a chance to look back and take a few positives from the heartbreaking loss in D.C.
“I think when you look at how we played with 10 men, we looked like we were actually going to win the game,” O’Connor said. “The way we played with 10, the fight and the character and the spirit, those are the types of things we want to see and that’s an expectation going forward.”