Orlando City must realise the need to gain ground on the other top teams in the Eastern Conference, so says Oscar Pareja.
The Lions sit fifth in the standings ahead of Saturday’s clash with the New England Revolution, who are down in 11th place, yet remarkably only three points behind Orlando in a congested table.
But Pareja is not looking down, instead choosing to focus on catching the teams above his side, with the New York Red Bulls nine points clear of them in fourth place.
“It is another important week and another important match with it being tight in the standings,” Pareja said.
“Surely, we have to recognise the importance of the moment to catch up with points. Playing against a rival that we played not long ago at their place in New England with a good performance. We still enter with motivation to get three points and be urgent.”
New England, meanwhile, have boosted their squad ahead of the run-in by bringing in Christian Makoun from Charlotte FC.
“We are pleased to acquire Christian,” said Revolution sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “He is a talented young defender and will add depth to our backline as we enter a crucial time in the regular season.”
Makoun arrived in the MLS with Inter Miami in 2020, with the Venezuelan having joined Charlotte in the offseason prior to 2022.
He made 13 appearances in the competition for Charlotte, having played 26 times in 2021.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Orlando City – Alexandre Pato
Alexandre Pato has scored three MLS goals and created a further five this season for Orlando, though he has not netted since the start of July.
New England Revolution – Carles Gil
New England have failed to score in their last two games and have not won since June – a run of six matches. If they are to turn around that form, playmaker Carles Gil needs to be on the top of his game.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– New England are unbeaten in eight straight matches against Orlando in MLS (W4 D4, including playoffs). The Revs have only ever managed one win at Orlando however, a 3-1 win in the 2020 playoffs while New England has never won a regular season match at Orlando (D5 L2).
– Orlando are winless in four straight games (D2 L2) for the first time this season following a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Sunday. The Lions have also lost consecutive matches for the second time in 2022, though they haven’t lost three straight since a four-game losing run last September.
– The Revolution are winless in six straight games (D2 L4) and have just three wins in their last 13 league matches (D8 L2). The six-match winless run is New England’s longest under Arena and longest since a nine-match streak (D3 L6) in July-September 2018.
– Orlando led 2-1 entering the 90th minute on Sunday against D.C. United, only to concede in the first and fifth minutes of stoppage time and lose 2-1. The comeback marked just the 10th time in MLS history that a team lost a match after entering stoppage time with the lead.
– Each of New England’s last two matches have ended in scoreless draws. The only time in MLS history a team has played three straight regular season matches without scoring or conceding was Colorado in the opening three games of the 2015 season.