Orlando City

Orlando City look to keep momentum heading into regular-season finale against Toronto


ORLANDO, Fla. — For the first time in three years, Orlando City won't have anything to play for on Decision Day.

Well, that's not fully true.

It's the first time that the Lions haven't had to worry about what happens in the match on Saturday night, as they have locked in the second seed in the MLS Eastern Conference, and no result in their game or elsewhere will change their standing.

Having said that, it doesn't mean that Orlando will approach this game any differently than the others. After all, the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs are just around the corner, and the Lions need to keep their good momentum going into the first round.

"It's important for us to continue," Head coach Oscar Pareja said before training at Orlando Health Training Ground at Osceola Heritage Park on Tuesday. "It is the reason why in training we haven't slowed down. We have to keep going on pushing the players and keep the intention that we have, which is to be in our best version in the playoffs. And our responsibility is to go to Toronto with the same quality."

This season, Toronto has struggled to find any kind of success, sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and securing the record for the worst team in the 2023 MLS season. They haven't won a match since August and only four total on the season.

“It’s been a tough season for them, but they’re a very big club, and I know they have great ambition, so I’m sure one day or even next year, it could be that they get back to where they want to be,” said Lions defender and Toronto native Luca Petrasso. “Just trying to focus right now on myself and the team, and hopefully, we can go into a good run into playoffs and just finish the season off this weekend.”

For Petrasso, the game will be his first time returning to his hometown since signing for the Lions this past offseason. The Canadian began his career in the TFC academy, eventually earning a spot with the TFC II team, working his way to a Homegrown Contract with the MLS side last year.

"I'm very excited," he said. "Probably had it marked on my calendar for a little while, especially my family being home and it being my first time going back to Toronto to play, back at BMO Field, so I'm excited for that. I'll have a lot of family and friends there, so it'll definitely be a special moment to be back there."

Weather forecasts for the match on Saturday (6:00 p.m. ET | MLS Season Pass) expect cold and rain at kickoff, a stark change to the Central Florida weather. For Petrasso, the cooler temperatures the last few days here in Orlando have been a much-needed change from the summer heat over the past few months.

"I was a bit more happy about going outside and training with the guys," he said. "It's a little bit better than sweating all day and then exerting yourself, so it'll be good this week to get used to that and then it'll definitely be a lot cooler up there. So it'll be nice to play in that kind of atmosphere and environment that's back home."

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.

Fans can download the LionNation App at the link here.