Orlando City kickstarts the MLS is Back tournament with a grudge match against interstate rivals Inter Miami.
First of all, welcome back everyone. It has been a long layoff that has required lots of patience. But, we are back and we are spearheading the return of the MLS. That's right. Not only are we the hosts, but we will also be playing in the first match of the tournament which is being broadcast around the world.
In that first match, we face our new rivals Inter Miami for the first time ever. Orlando City will want to start this rivalry off a lot better than they started the Atlanta one. In 9 matches so far, Orlando is an astonishing 0-2-7 (W-D-L) against the Five Stripes. The Lions will want to make sure that they start this rivalry off on the right foot. It's clear that the Lions have struggled to overcome the mental barrier of getting that first win against Atlanta. They will be going into this specific match knowing that if they fail to win, another mental barrier will be created.
Even going into the match, Orlando City will surely have the record against Atlanta United in the back of their minds. Coming out on top seems to be the only solution to put those worries behind us. The problem is, this is a very tricky fixture.
It will be the first game back for both teams since March 7th before the MLS was inevitably suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some positives can be taken from the break (players returning from injury), it will be tough for players to return to full match fitness due to the layoff.
This match will be won and lost in three key areas. Fitness, individual quality, and in-game management. Fitness because if legs start to get tired in the latter stages of both halves, spaces will be opened for players who aren't as tired to take advantage of. Individual quality because the players need to be able to take advantage of those spaces and hurt the opposition when they get the chance. Finally, in-game management because making the right subs and tactical tweaks at the right times will help the team gain an advantage in the game.
The hope is obviously that Pareja manages everything well as he's done before, but he is pitted against an equal in Diego Alonso. The Miami boss has won many trophies throughout his career, including the CONCACAF Champions League in 2017 and 2019. It will be interesting to see how the two matchup against each other. Pareja currently holds the advantage with a 2-1 record against Diego Alonso in the three matches they have faced against each other.
In terms of news surrounding this game for Orlando City, it will be good to see Dom Dwyer, Uri Rosell, and Nani back in the squad now that they have recovered from their respective injuries and suspensions. They will be important if Orlando is to be successful in the tournament.
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Stadium: ESPN Wide World of Sports
Team News (ORL): None
Team News (MIA): Torres (suspended), Gonzalez-Pirez (unavailable)
Predicted Lineup: (3-4-1-2) Gallese, Carlos, Jansson, Schlegel, Ruan, Urso, Mendez, Moutinho, Pereyra, Dwyer, Nani
Score Prediction: 1-0 Win
'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando