Since returning from their two-week international break, Orlando City has been on quite an offensive awakening during their last two games played.
Last Saturday’s 3-2 win over Toronto, and Tuesday’s 5-0 clobbering over the San Jose Earthquakes may have been pivotal points up the Eastern Conference standings — where Orlando currently sits in second with 18 points.
But it’s also through those last two matches that for the first time this season, the Lions flexed their offensive repertoire, scoring eight goals over the course of those matches — courtesy of five different offensive players, to note.
For head coach Oscar Pareja, it’s a decisive urgency Orlando City hopes to continue to use, this time against in-state rivals Inter Miami CF during their Friday night Florida Clásico at DRV PNK Stadium (8 p.m. ET | FS1).
“The urgency we showed against Toronto, the urgency we showed against [San Jose] as well, it was really important to put the game in a very comfortable situation throughout the course of the game,” Oscar Pareja said in Spanish during Wednesday’s media availability. “Being able to mark quickly is something that produces confidence in the group. And one would like for every game to be like that, no? To not only have the urgency but to be decisive and precise in the area to convert on our options to score. Logically, the sooner, the better.”
It’s the first time in four games that Orlando has scored more than one goal in a match — a feat not seen since May 1 during a 3-0 win over FC Cincinnati.
What’s most impressing about that decisive urgency, Pareja mentions, is the promptness in which the goals have come. To highlight, of those eights goals, four of them have come within the first 15 minutes of the game, and from those eight goals coming from players such as: Nani, Daryl Dike and Benji Michel twice, respectively; Tesho Akindele and Junior Urso with one each.
“We’ve relied on that during the last two games, we go into wanting every game to have that type of effectiveness, with that same mentality at Miami,” Pareja added. “We know the importance of the result, but the importance of maintaining that type of level that the players can also sustain knowing the workload they’ve had recently to keep earning points and going up the standings.”
Also to note, forward Alexandre Pato returned to training this week for the first time since the first week of the season, as reported by Julia Poe:
Sebastian Mendez (Ecuador) and Pedro Gallese (Peru) continue to be out with their respective national teams in the Copa América tournament being played in Brazil.
Inter Miami forward DP Gonzalo Higuian is a doubt for Friday’s game against the Lions. [Report]
The Argentine missed last weekend’s trip to D.C. United, and is on a separate training regiment as he recovers from a knock he suffered earlier in the season, while Rodolfo Pizarro is also questionable for Friday’s match.
Inter Miami will also be without defender Ryan Shawcross and midfielder Gregore, who are both serving suspensions for red cards picked up in their last match vs DC United.
Daryl Dike’s future discussed
Daryl Dike officially returned to Exploria Stadium on Tuesday and brought the same type of scoring edge he’s been riding with since the end of last season, overseas with Barnsley FC and over to the U.S. men’s national team .
With that success, his future with the Lions was again brought up to Oscar Pareja, and the Orlando coach was full of praise of the 21-year-old forward. In that same breath, Pareja was also cautious with his words for the rising American striker.
“There is a lot of things happening around [Daryl] because the possibility to stay in England was there, and still is there, because the window is going to be open until August,” said Pareja. “I always ambition the best for the players and for the clubs. My best advice to Daryl is to be present in the moment that he’s in. Right now he’s with Orlando, I don’t want him to be distracted by any other thing. I can see other things happening but that will be a result of his good job at the moment on. He needs to just concentrate on this present, this moment where he is.”
Pareja said he’s seen Dike return more mature, and his communication with USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter over the forward’s fitness is something ongoing, alluding to Dike’s potential involvement in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament with the United States.
“If he goes to the Gold Cup, if he gets sold, if he stays in Orlando. If he make it better. He’s just 21 and all he needs to do is enjoy these moments, but not forget that he needs to be present in what is happening today,” Pareja added.
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