D.C. United may be going through an injury bug to start the season but for Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja heading into Sunday’s match at Audi Field, the task not only falls on remaining unbeaten in the year — but also not underestimating a home side that’s also playing on a short turnaround.
Kickoff for the match is slated for 8 p.m. and will televise locally on FOX 35 Plus and LionNation TV.
“D.C. from what we’ve seen is playing with a consistent model of play,” Pareja told reporters in Spanish on Friday. “Their are players who have been missing for them, some that are in the lineup and others that are not. The have an idea that wants to play aggressive and press high and they have players that are gradually adapting to that style of play, so we’re preparing for that.”
The Lions (1-0-3, 6 points) currently remain one of three teams still undefeated in the 2021 regular season. Orlando recently played to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC at Exploria Stadium last week.
For DCU (2-3-0, 6 points), Sunday’s game comes with little rest after having played on Thursday at home during a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.
A topic, though, that was brought up during Friday’s media availability with Pareja was the game day lineup, which has been the same last two games and Pareja acknowledged it by saying he finalizes his game day lineup a day prior to every match, taking into account when change is needed.
“At this stage of the season, we normally have plenty of players with a lot of desire to play and make the lineup,” said Pareja. “… they have not just the capacity, but they have the talent to face any team and be part of the lineup but at the same time, you have to equate the fact that you want to have consistency with some of the players or a group that needs to add some games, and get some momentum and some rhythm.”
Ruan, who went down with a lower-body injury last week against NYCFC, is expected to return for Sunday’s game against DCU, Pareja confirmed. Robin Jansson, who hasn’t made an appearance this season and was left off the game day lineup last week, is also expected to be available for selection.
Alexandre Pato is still ruled out for another few weeks after undergoing a procedure on his right knee. Pareja also confirmed Uri Rosell will be out due to a lower body injury.
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