Orlando City will play its first road game of the season when they travel to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Kickoff, 9 p.m. ET).
But for Lions coach Oscar Pareja, he’s looking for more personality from his players as they look to claim their first three points entering Week 2 of the 2020 MLS regular season.
“We’re fine, working hard. We know that it’s a long season and we have to go away and add points,” Pareja said in Spanish before Thursday’s practice. “We’re going to need personality, so we could show that the team has character when we go away to get points and that’s our intention.”
Orlando (0-0-1, 1 point) will be shorthanded again heading into Saturday’s match in Commerce City, Colorado.
Nani, who’s expected to be back for next week’s home game against the Chicago Fire, will be out as he wraps up a two-game suspension he picked up last season. Dom Dwyer (lower-body injury) continues to remain day-to-day and will also miss out.
It’s a bit of an inconvenience, Pareja noted, but also an opportunity to make proper adjustments with players waiting for their turn to play.
“You always want to have all your players available, but the game is like that,” Pareja said. “There are difficulties for one reason or another, and you have to adjust and see that as an opportunity for the players who have been waiting for their turn.”
“Now, it’s about finding a solution to the inconvenience of these absences with players who have similar characteristics, and I believe we’re doing well,” he added.
The Rapids (1-0-0, 3 points) earned a 2-1 victory over D.C. United last week at Audi Field to start the 2020 campaign.
Goals will come
Following last week’s scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake, Pareja mentioned the team needed to improve on its precision on the final third.
When asked in Spanish if that’s been an area of focus this week in training, the Orlando coach said critics shouldn’t be too caught up on what wasn’t done last week but rather what’s being done on the field to eventually find the team’s clinical-attacking edge.
“I see the guys working well,” he said. “That feeling that we couldn’t find a goal, we have to put aside and look at the next game. These are players who have the energy and optimism and that precision [in the final third] will come with the games.”
“We shouldn’t exaggerate on what wasn’t done but what the players did. We’re a team that’s organized, a team with proper identity. A team where it knows it’s going and with that, watch important results come for Orlando City.”
On the defensive end, however, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese has noticed the squad’s defensive organization carries positive continuity from last season.
“Our defense is doing very well, we can see that during our preseason games and even during the last game,” said Gallese.
Mauricio Pereyra, who played the full 90 minutes during last week’s opener, didn’t appear much in training this week according to ProSoccerUSA’s Julia Poe. But Pareja did confirm the Uruguayan midfielder will travel with the team to Colorado.
“We’re trying to do that, manage the load with him and see if we can take care of the players. Sometimes their status is not the same because some of them came out of the game with different pains… but it’s normal. We’re trying to be cautious [and] have them do what I need and have until the last moment to see if they’re available for the game or not.”
Pereyra appeared to train on Thursday with the team and traveled to Colorado with the team.
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Photo: Terrance Coakley / Orlando Soccer Journal