ORLANDO, Fla. — Wednesday's match for Orlando City will be a challenge for many reasons.
Coming off a dramatic match over the weekend that saw the Lions come from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in stoppage time, they have a quick two-day turnaround as they head to Queens to take on New York City FC.
Unlike in previous years where the matches have been played at Yankee Stadium, this matchup will be played at the home of MLB's New York Mets, Citi Field. Despite it being a bit bigger in the outfield than their usual home, the pitch will still remain extremely narrow compared to other stadiums around the league.
"It's something that me and my teammates have been talking about," Midfielder Wilder Cartagena said before training at Orlando Health Training Ground at Osceola Heritage Park on Monday. "Those that have played there have told me about the smaller field that we'll be playing on, but for our part, we're focused on preparing the best that we can, preparing to face a good rival and take the most amount of points from the games we have left. If we have to do it against a tough rival on a smaller field, then that's what we're going to do."
In preparation for this difference in field, the Lions' coaching staff measured out their training pitch to the exact size of the field they will be playing on, putting down tape along the sidelines and end line to help the team prepare as best as possible for the narrow conditions they'll be facing.
This will mark the first time the Lions and Pigeons have faced off at Citi Field (7:30 p.m. kickoff | MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (subscription required) in their 21 league matches played against each other.
"Mentally, we have to adapt to those things." Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. "It seems like the measurements is not that big, but it affects the game. It's obviously much more narrow, the game has an effect, just because of the size of the field, so there's things that we need to be prepared for. The best way we can do that is to replicate that size and try to train. It's not many days, but at least one or two that they can feel that size of the field and then try to imagine the game in that space."
Odds and ends
- Oscar Pareja confirmed that forward Duncan McGuire will be available for Wednesday's match, after missing out against Columbus due to a knock picked up in training.
- Gastón González, who had been out since July with injury, was back on the bench this past weekend and will be available for selection this coming match.
Don't miss Kickoff -60, airing one hour before Orlando City's match, exclusively on the LionNation App. Join host Gabrielle Amado and Orlando City’s English-language radio talents Evan Weston and Paul Shaw as they break down the upcoming match, with special guests appearing regularly throughout the season.
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