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Revolution, Orlando City feel urgency to win now

While the New England Revolution are trying to move up the playoff ladder, Orlando City is running out of time to to turn its season around in hopes of getting back in the postseason mix.

Two struggling clubs square off Saturday night as the Lions meet the Revolution in Florida.

Orlando City (7-14-1) was expected to contend for a playoff spot this year -- and won six in a row early -- but its season spiraled out of control starting in May. The Lions have dropped three in a row and 12 of their last 13 MLS matches after last Sunday's 4-3 road loss to the LA Galaxy.

"We expect to be better," Orlando City coach James O'Connor told the league's official website. "You can't come away, score three goals and not get anything out of the game. The level of the performance at times, the quality of the football at times is really, really good. But again, it becomes irrelevant when you don't win the game."

O'Connor is the Lions' third coach this season after Jason Kreis was fired in May and Bobby Murphy served in an interim role. The club has yielded a league-high 51 goals in 2018.

New England coach Brad Friedel noted that O'Connor continues to tinker with his team.

"Right now, he's obviously, with the changing of the lineup so much, he's obviously trying to find out the players that are going to fit his system, which is absolutely normal to do," Friedel said this week.

With 12 matches to play, Orlando City is tied with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC for ninth in the Eastern Conference and six points out of a playoff spot. The Lions are 5-5-1 at Orlando City Stadium and 2-0-2 all time at home versus the Revs.

New England (7-7-7) is tied with the Montreal Impact for fifth in the East with two games in hand. Both clubs are one point ahead of the Philadelphia Union, who are currently outside the top six.

Friedel's team returns to the pitch for the first time since a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on July 21. The Revolution dropped three in a row during a seven-day span going into their bye week.

"We were able to get some players some extra training (who) needed it and get some other players some rest (who) needed it, and also able to work on things," Friedel said.

New England begins a stretch in which it plays seven of its next 10 MLS matches on the road. The Revs are 1-4-4 away from home this season, but midfielder Diego Fagundez says the team is mentally tough.

"We say we win and we lose as a team. No matter what happens, we have to stick together," he noted. "When we're on the field and we're winning, everyone is having fun and everyone can celebrate. When we're losing, that's when you need to bring the team together, and so far, I think that's what we're doing. I think this team, we have good quality on the field and we can win any game."

Fagundez leads the team with seven assists and is third with seven goals. Only fellow midfielder Cristian Penilla (eight) and forward Teal Bunbury (10) have more goals.

New England fell 6-1 to Orlando City last Sept. 27 in Orlando.

Updated August 2, 2018

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