MLS Playoffs: Orlando City hosts New England in Eastern Conference Semifinal bout


Courtesy of Orlando City SC

Following one of the most ridiculous endings to a match in MLS Playoff history, Orlando City‘s historic season continues Sunday afternoon.

After last Saturday’s penalty shootout win over New York City FC, Orlando was set to play the winner between Supporters’ Shield winners Philadelphia Union and 8th seeded New England Revolution.

Against the odds, the Revs pulled out the 2-0 upset over the Union, meaning Orlando would host the game between the two sides.

Now the Lions, who will be without starting keeper Pedro Gallese and fullback Ruan, will play for a chance to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Sunday’s match will kickoff at 3 p.m. and will be broadcast nationwide on ABC.

“The expectation is always high to keep advancing to our objective which is being in that final and obviously aiming for the trophy, but every step that we take is different,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said on Friday. “We’re just getting ready and preparing the team and the players are in the same mode of putting themselves in the best form to face New England now and advance. We’re ready, the boys are ready.”

The Lions are no strangers to long runs in knockout tournaments this year. During this summer’s MLS is Back Tournament, Orlando beat Montreal, LAFC and Minnesota on their way to the tournament championship match.

“We spoke in the bubble with the players, I think it was before our game against Minnesota,” Pareja said on the tournament. “I mentioned to the players, I said ‘boys we’re going to remember these moments of pressure and tension and anxiousness when we are in the playoffs, so be prepared for these moments because we’re going to win these moments often for the club.'”

“I hope that those moments can bring good memories and put us in a place where we have been already this year and experiences that would help us to gain confidence. That’s the desire. I hope that can help us. But as always, I go there, thinking that you can take whatever from the memories and from the present and things but you gotta be concentrated and make sure that the 90 plus minutes can bring us the victory, but the boys experiences would help them for sure.”

Injury Report 

Pareja confirmed with reporters on Friday that Sebas Mendez was still quarantining after his stint with the Ecuadorian National team, though he would not confirm a report that Mendez came down with COVID-19 while with the team. 

João Moutinho, who’s been out since August because of a groin injury, has been training with the squad as of late, according to Pareja, but the defender has once again been ruled out for this weekend. 

“I decided just to wait on João,” Pareja said, “I want to make sure that we have a good recording with him. Other than that we’re fine, you know, Sebas is under quarantines still and then the rest of the players are fine. Everybody is available.”

Meanwhile, Pedro Gallese and Ruan, who both received red cards in the NYCFC match, will remain suspended for the match on Sunday, despite Orlando City appealing Gallese’s card and losing the appeal

Projected XI

Orlando City Starting Lineup 4-2-3-1: Brian Rowe; Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Kamal Miller; Andres Perea, Junior Urso, Chris Mueller, Mauricio Pereyra, Nani (c); Daryl Dike. 

For more coverage, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer


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