The Friday night lights will be burning bright at Exploria Stadium this Friday evening as Orlando City takes on Atlanta United in front of a nationally televised audience.
The Lions will look to close out an up and down July on a strong note and win their second straight home contest, building off last Thursday’s 2-1 win over defending Supporters’ Shield winners Philadelphia Union. And they’ll be looking to bounce back from their last game, a stunning 5-0 loss at NYCFC.
“It’s a constant obligation, it’s a constant demand of the game to show character,” said Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja this week. “Even when you win, if you win often, or have success often, then the day after, you have to show character to sustain that level too. When you don’t get the results, and you had a defeat like the one that we just had, it seems like you have to double your character, but it’s the same.
“I don’t expect much more than what the players have shown every day in trying to get better in training, trying to bounce back.”
Defeats like this haven’t come often for Pareja’s Lions. The game was just their third multi-goal defeat in 44 matches under Pareja’s leadership, and their first loss in which they did not score. Pareja, though, is taking it as a learning experience.
Atlanta comes in on a 10-game winless run, having dismissed Head Coach Gabriel Heinze on July 18. Former Orlando City USL player Rob Valentino leads the side in the interim.“What is really important, for me, is sometimes these kinds of games that
are very hard to absorb have information that the victories don’t have,” he said. “We will take the best out of this, and like always, we want three points against Atlanta.”
Friday’s match, presented by Heineken, is set to kick off at 8 p.m. from Exploria Stadium and will air nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Local radio coverage is available from 7:30 p.m. on FM 96.9 the Game in English and Acción 97.9 FM in Spanish.