ORLANDO, Fla. (April 16, 2021) - Orlando City returns to action on Saturday, April 17, set to kick off its 2021 Major League Soccer campaign against Atlanta United FC. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET at Exploria Stadium.
The match, presented by Orlando Health, will be nationally broadcast on Univision and TUDN, with English commentary available on Twitter. Tickets for Saturday’s fixture have sold out, with 2021 Season Ticket Members and Partial Plan holders receiving priority access.
“It’s important to be consistent. Last year we had a lot of joy in achieving many objectives, but at the same time we understand we were short. It’s something [winning trophies] we want to give so bad to the community and the Club,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “With the energy that the boys have, the desire and the commitment that we all have to this Club, we’re expecting nothing but to keep growing and keep competing for first place. Our approach hasn’t changed. That’s the commitment and the responsibility that every coach has to have with his players and the Club that we represent.”
Pareja enters his second year at the helm looking to build on his success from a year ago, leading the Lions to record-setting seasons on both sides of the ball and their first appearance in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. City finished the 2020 regular season on the offensive with an average of 1.74 goals per game, while allowing just 1.09, both Club records.
Returning to the Lions for the start of the 2021 season are 23 of its rostered players following the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese once more occupying the sticks, while Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, Ruan and Kyle Smith all return at the back. Sebastián Méndez, Júnior Urso and Mauricio Pereyra will once again feature at midfield, while four of the five Lions’ top-scorers from a year ago in Chris Mueller, Nani, Benji Michel and Urso all return for the start of the campaign. Pereyra will miss the first two matches due to suspension.
Added to the City roster this past offseason include former AC Milan forward Pato, along with young Dutch forward Silvester van der Water. The side has also signed a pair of Homegrown products in Wilfredo Rivera and Raul Aguilera, while 2021 MLS SuperDraft selection Rio Hope-Gund has been inked to a First Team contract ahead of the year.
The Lions will look to remain unbeaten in opening fixtures on Saturday, with a 1-0-5 record in six previous contests. The weekend will mark the first time City will welcome Atlanta United to start the year, going unbeaten against the Five Stripes in 2020 with a record of 2-0-2.
Atlanta United returns to the pitch after advancing to the Quarterfinals of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League earlier in the week, defeating Costa Rican side Alajuelense 1-0 on Tuesday night. Jürgen Damm scored the lone goal in the 93rd minute to punch the Five Stripes ticket to the next round, moving on with a 2-0 aggregate.
Following Saturday’s fixture, the Lions will head out on the road to face Western Conference side Sporting Kansas City on Friday, April 23 at Children’s Mercy Park in yet another nationally televised contest. The match will air live on FS1 and Fox Deportes, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.