Orlando City may only be heading into week two of the 2017 Major League Soccer season, but for Matias Perez Garcia, Saturday’s game against the New England Revolution will be another final.
At least that is the team’s mindset this season and before heading into this weekend’s away game at Gillette Stadium. [UPDATE: Saturday’s game was postponed to a later date]
“We decided as a team that we’re going to play every game as if it were a final,” said Perez Garcia after the team’s training session on Thursday. “It’s something that we proposed during preseason… game by game, but also knowing each game is important.”
The Argentine midfielder alluded to having that same mindset during last Sunday’s season opener, which saw Orlando City defeat New York City FC 1-0 in front of 25,527 in attendance.
Perez Garcia, who also goes by MPG, posted on Monday on Instagram: “Hora de la recuperación, El Sábado se viene otra final,” which is Spanish for Saturday comes another final.
The team was praised by NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira last Sunday by saying Orlando City played with togetherness throughout the 90 minutes. Lions head coach Jason Kreis also praised his team by saying they brought a Will Johnson-like effort to the game.
After Ricardo Kaka was ruled out for six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury during the home opener, Kreis followed up with MPG’s statement by saying having the right mentality helps by seizing each opportunity.
“Whether Kaka is on the field, whether Kaka is not on the field, whether Kaka is in the group or not in the group, all of our players this year should be going about this with a mentality that this is an opportunity for us that will go away unless we grasp it,” said Kreis.
“We have a different hunger level this year to perform every single game and to give back to the fans what they’ve given us in the last two years,” added Kreis. “Hopefully, it sounds like the player that is saying the same things that every single game is critically important to this group.”
MPG played 89 minutes last Sunday before getting subbed out for Hadji Barry. According to the midfielder, he suffered from some leg cramps, but feels OK to play in the first road match this season.
“I feel good…obviously I still have a little pain on my legs but nothing that’s going to hinder me from doing well on Saturday,” he concluded.
Below is the footage of MPG’s comments from Thursday’s training session. The audio is in Spanish, but Orlando City Director of Communications, Jacky Ramos, provides translation afterwards.
(Photo by Bryce Brimhall / Orlando Soccer Journal)