A few days after Mauricio Pereyra joined Orlando City, he was quite blunt on how in-form he was prior to joining the Lions.
He wasn’t 100% and didn’t have a preseason with the club, Pereyra said last season.
This year, things are a bit different. Pereyra is in his first preseason with Orlando and that’s a good starting point to the 2020 MLS regular season.
“It’s a good starting point to have a preseason,” Pereyra told the Orlando Soccer Journal last week. “It prepares us to be ready for whatever comes our way during the season. When I arrived last summer, I didn’t have a preseason, so that affected how I adapted to the team, so it’s always good to be there at the start of something, so we can cement important objectives.”
Pereyra, 29, joined the Lions on July 30 as a designated player after 6 1/2 years playing in the Russian Premier League with FC Krasnodar.
The attacking midfielder appeared in six games last season and recorded three assists during his short cameo as Orlando crashed out of the MLS Cup playoff race on an eight-game winless streak.
But those six games that Pereyra played were enough to give him an idea of what playing in Major League Soccer was like.
“I think those games were good for me. It was served as a preview of what to expect in this league,” he said. “Knowing how other teams play, knowing what it’s like to play at home and as a visitor. You start to realize the importance of playing against teams in your conference.”
Pereyra spent his offseason back home in Uruguay, adding that his family has officially joined him in Orlando.
Orlando head coach Óscar Pareja, who’s implemented a high-intense preseason regiment, knows fully well of the importance of Mauricio having a preseason with the club.
“There are a lot of guys that haven’t done a preseason like this,” the Orlando coach said in Spanish on Monday before the team left to Mexico for preseason training. “We’re very demanding during this period where we’re asking our players to take on a heavy load. It’s readapting for our players but prepares them for 34 games plus the playoffs and cup games.”
“Preseason is tough for our players, but in regards to Mauricio, I’m glad that he’s able to have a complete preseason with us,” added Óscar.
With a full preseason in place, Mauricio said that allows him to set high goals for the team and for him personally.
“We have to be able to reach our goals, we can’t hit a ceiling, we have to be able to grab as many points as possible and aspire to big things,” said Mauricio. “After that, making the playoffs would be checking off one objective, but the main thing is to point up. If we focus on just making the playoffs, that’s not a big enough goal for us.”
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