City Notes: Oscar Pareja remains confident in MLS bubble; Tesho Akindele new deal months in the making, and more

Training on 06_27 - Orlando City SC - Wide World of Sports_m834

Florida hit a record of 15,300 COVID-19 cases on Sunday and on the MLS front, the virus had its effect on the league’s lone morning game.

D.C. United and Toronto FC were expected to kick off at 9 a.m. Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but the Group C match of the MLS is Back Tournament was postponed after an unconfirmed positive case for one player, and an inconclusive test for another player was revealed. 

Major League Soccer later announced that same day that the game between DCU and Toronto would be played on Monday at 9 a.m.

Speaking to reporters via Zoom video conference on Sunday afternoon, Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja reassured his team’s confidence inside the league’s quarantined bubble.

“A group came to the bubble with a mentality that it’s not going to be to be perfect,” said Pareja. “We came with a mentality that there is some risk, and it’s obvious because the whole planet has it. We choose not to think much about, just have the protocols. Be disciplined, take care of the way we act here trying to control what we can control [and] Concentrate on the game.”

The Lions are scheduled to play in their second Group A game against New York City FC on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

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Fitness levels

After four months without playing competitive soccer, Oscar Pareja is pleased with what he saw from his team during last week’s 2-1 victory over Inter Miami. 

‘It’s normal after four months, the boys need some stability to their competition,” said Pareja. “We as coaches know that there is never enough time to prepare them but with us it’s clear, we came with the mentality with no excuses here and along the journey, I hope that we can continue with that.”

Pareja said he thought his players played well during their Group A opener, adding the team is healthy in terms of injuries. 

“Fitness-wise, we’re fine, we’re good [and] we’re content with the team,” said Pareja. “Regarding the other clubs… we’re positive. We’re just trying to add and the competition is here and that’s the best thing and then we will adapt to the other things.” 

Tesho new contract months in the making

After signing a contract extension with Orlando City that could potentially see him play through the 2023 season, Tesho Akindele confirmed talks about a new deal formulated during the offseason. 

“It’s kind of been bubbling up since, maybe even the offseason, just talks a little bit back and forth,” Akindele told reporters. “We hadn’t really agreed to anything and then you know the virus came, so obviously things got put on hold a bit.”

Pareja praises Mueller 

Chris Mueller, who scored the game-tying goal against Inter Miami last week, received plenty of praise from Orlando coach Oscar Pareja. 

Here’s what Pareja had to say about Mueller: 

“Chris has been growing, he’s still a young player but he’s very smart,” said Pareja. “He’s a player who’s understanding better the game, adding to his game, daily he’s getting better and that makes me happy. He receives well the information. He’s a player who can score, who can play wide, inside — as a second striker, he’s learning his job on playing the spaces. I see him progressing and he’s a big hope for the club.”

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