For the third time in this condensed MLS season, Orlando City will face off against their southern foes Atlanta United while looking to keep their unprecedented 9 game unbeaten run afloat.
The Lions and Five Stripes will square off on Wednesday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 7 p.m. and will televise locally on FOX 35 Plus.
Orlando will potentially have their most depleted lineup of the year, due to injuries and international call-ups. A total of nine normal rotation players could be unavailable for the trip to Georgia. For the Lions’ boss, however, it just means new opportunities for other players.
“The players have been working hard and the guys who are coming into the lineup, they’re doing a great job,” head coach Oscar Pareja said on Monday. “The boys are adapting because they are trusting in their process and they’re being patient in the difficult moments that they have had so far and I hope that we can continue growing in that part, because the challenges will not stop.”
For Orlando (8-2-5, 29 points), Wednesday starts the potential of a excruciating week, as the team plays back home over the weekend against one of the best teams in MLS this season, the Columbus Crew.
It will be up to Pareja and his staff to discern who to play and when, taking into account this weekends match and the implications it could have in the Supporters’ Shield race.
During his press conference on Monday, Pareja also gave an update on the conditions of the injured Lions and their status’ for the upcoming matches.
“It’s a day-by-day thing, especially now with the proximity of the games,” Pareja said. “Joao (Moutinho) isn’t ready, but Uri (Rosell) is getting there. They’re getting participation with the team already. They’ve done some exercises there and some things that have been available for selection. The other ones are coming along too. Tesho (Akindele) we will keep him out for this week’s games. The other ones are on a day-by-day thing. I want to be careful too, with the volume of games and really just give opportunity to some others who have earned it.”
Those day-to-day players also include Ruan, Mauricio Pereyra, and Junior Urso.
The Lions will also be without Pedro Gallese and Sebas Mendez, both who have left for international duty with Peru and Ecuador respectively. They are expected to miss the next three to four matches at minimum.
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