Meg Van Dyk
Six: the number of wins Orlando City SC has secured in a row this season, the most in Club history and the first this season by any team in the league.
“Any time there’s a record out there to be broken, I want to break it and my team wants to break it, no doubt,” head coach Jason Kreis said.
Breaking that record is a feat made possible by the unmatched character of a resilient group of men, hungry for victory.
The attitude of this team began during the offseason when Kreis recruited players who were not only talented, but who could lead.
“It speaks to the leadership that we’ve brought here.” Kreis said. “We’ve brought a lot of guys that are excellent leaders with experience and the capability to coach on the field while they play at an extremely high level. 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.”
And work they have. The Lions have come from behind in four separate matches this season to give the team their six-game streak, including tonight against Real Salt Lake.
“The feeling in the team is if we do give up the first goal we don’t let it phase us and we just say, ‘make the next play, make the next play’,” midfielder Sacha Kljestan said. “We stick with each other, we keep pushing and then the goals come.”
Those goals have come in spades for Orlando City. This season alone nine different players have found the back of the net for the Lions and almost as many have aided in the scoring of those goals through assists.
“It’s been good over these six-game winning streak,” Kljestan said. “I’ve had a goal or an assist in all six of the games, Dom’s [Dwyer] gotten a goal in five of those six, Yoshi [Yotún] has put up two goals and a few assists as well, the overall attack has been good and we’ve scored a lot of goals.”
While the goals have been a major contributing factor of this team extending their winning streak, it was goalkeeper Joe Bendik who made a season-high eight saves against Salt Lake to keep the Lion’s hopes of making history alive.
Bendik’s critical play did not go unnoticed by the fans, who in the 63rd minute rose to their feet and bowed to the man after his eighth save of the match.
“It’s just an awesome feeling,” Bendik said. “In the last two years we’ve never come from behind to actually win a game and we’ve done that four or five times this season. That’s incredible.”
Tonight the team and fans will celebrate together in victory for Orlando City, but come tomorrow the work begins again as the Lions look to improve.
“We’ve had some really good results, but the truth of the matter is we all know we can do better,” Kreis said.
That same feeling was echoed through the locker room as they look forward to rivalry week against Atlanta United.
“We know now the next one is a big one for us, because its a rivalry and we are playing the top team in the conference and it’s going to be very important,” Kljestan said “We’ve got a lot of hungry players and we’ve got a lot of guys that want to continue to be successful.”