MLS Focus: How good is Orlando City?

How good is Orlando City, which extended its winning streak to six games with a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday?

The Lions have beaten only one team that is currently above the red line in its conference, and that's the New York Red Bulls, who were resting most of their starters in the middle of their Concacaf Champions League campaign. None of the last four opponents is above ninth place in its conference.

But winning six games in a row is no easy feat. In the last five years, just two other MLS teams have won six games in a row -- Toronto FC twice in 2017 en route to its historic treble and New England in 2015.

Probably what is most impressive is that Orlando City has trailed in the first half four times and come back to win in the second half. In the 86th, 87th and 77th minutes before scoring three times after the hour-mark to beat RSL.



"As a coach," said Orlando City's Jason Kreis after the RSL match, "you probably much prefer not having to come back so many times, not to be suffering the first goal in so many matches, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter because it’s about 90 minutes. Over the 90 minutes, our guys continued to work and stay together and get the result. As I said, we deserve that result and we got it.”

It took until the end of the first month of the MLS season for Orlando City to catch on fire, and it is averaging almost three goals a game during the current streak.

Dom Dwyer, who scored his sixth goal of the season against RSL, has scored in all but one game since sitting out the first three games of the season with a quad injury. Yoshi Yotun added a goal and an assist on Sunday to give him three goals and five assists. Sacha Kljestan, who came over from the Red Bulls, has two goals and four assists after being suspended for the opening two games. Chris Mueller leads all rookies in MLS with three goals.

Kreis says having MLS veterans like Dwyer, who came over from Sporting Kansas City, and Kljestan have been very important.

“For me, it starts with leadership," he said. "It starts with the very high number of players that we have that have been there and done that before in our league. We have the experience to draw from. They’ve been in many, many difficult situations, in difficult places to play, in front of a lot of people and in big matches. it’s those types of players that do a terrific job of leading the rest and continuing to push the rest to believe and continue to work.”

The hard part begins for Orlando City, which hosts Atlanta United, the best team in MLS, on Sunday. Its next two away games are at Toronto FC and New York City FC.

The pressure remains to erase the memories of the first three campaigns, which ended without a playoff berth. In 2017, the Lions also started hot but then collapsed. They won six of their first seven games -- then just four times the rest of the season.

Orlando City streak:
Orlando City 4 NY Red Bulls 3.
(Johnson 15, Dwyer 26, 48, Colman 86; Valot 7, Etienne 24, Long 82. Att.: 23,257.)
Orlando City 3 Portland 2.
(Mueller 80, Kljestan pen. 82, Dwyer 87; Valeri pen. 20, Tuiloma 59. Att.: 22,337.)
Philadelphia 0 Orlando City 2.
(Dwyer 38, Mueller. Att.: 16,032.)
Orlando City 3 San Jose 2.
(Mueller 2, Kljestan 35, Dwyer 69; Jungwirth 78, 90. Att.: 25,527.)
Colorado 1 Orlando City 2.
(Badji 26; Higuita 52, Yotun pen. 77. Att.: 15,702.)
Orlando City 3 Real Salt Lake 1.
(Dwyer 61, Sane 64, Yotun 78; Baird 13. Att.: 23,258.)
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