With nine games left to the MLS regular season, Orlando City will brace itself for an intense match this weekend against an in-form New York Red Bulls, while the Lions look to keep ascending up the Eastern Conference table.
Orlando and Red Bulls square off on Saturday at Exploria Stadium at 4 p.m. and will televise nationally on FOX.
But as Orlando looks to build on its eight-game unbeaten run, it welcomes a New York side that’s beginning to build momentum having won its last two matches, outscoring its opponents 8-2 during that stretch heading into Saturday’s game.
“We’re waiting a team who normally is intense on their games, a team who has been performing lately very well in terms of results,” head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters during Thursday’s media availability. “I knew pretty well what is the best idea so our intentions won’t change, but obviously recognizing what they do and what are the opportunities we may have is important for our players. But I don’t have any doubt that with New York Red Bull, it will be a very intense match for sure.”
For Orlando (7-2-5, 26 points), Saturday is the start of another grueling stretch to end the 2020 regular season, playing seven out of its last nine games of the regular during the month of October.
With that, Pareja faces another task in regards to the health of some key players who are questionable heading into Saturday’s match against the Red Bulls.
Fullback Ruan went down early in the match against Dallas and was subbed out, while centerback Antonio Carlos has missed the last few matches with an undisclosed injury.
“In regards to Ruan, we’ve been taking care of him and we’re going to wait until [Friday] to see how he’s doing,” Pareja said in Spanish. “Antonio [Carlos] is ready, he’s training with the group and available for selection. We’ll see on Friday if we start him or not, or we bring him in from the bench.”
Pareja also provided some updates on Joao Moutinho (groin), Uri Rosell (undisclosed injury) and Matheus Aias — who still hasn’t trained with the team since signing with Orlando in August.
“With Joao, it’s only a matter of time and Uri is very close,” said Pareja. “With Matheus, he’s still finishing all these protocols that have been taking very long and the medical exams have been extended, so it’s been difficult to incorporate him. We’re waiting on some medical results and to have the green line so we can insert him in the group.”
The Lions will also be without Sebas Mendez, who is suspended for Saturday’s game after picking up a red card during last week’s 0-0 draw at FC Dallas.
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