On Tuesday night, Orlando City has a chance to make history.
The Lions could very well end the night lifting the club’s first-ever major trophy, as they ready to face the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back Tournament Final (8:30 pm EST, ESPN/ESPN Deportes). Orlando City’s players seem to recognize the enormity of the opportunity in front of them.
“It was important to win [the semifinal] because we want to make history,” said Orlando City midfielder Júnior Urso. “The new history for Orlando City, for MLS. So for us, it’s important to win. We are very excited, very happy, and we fight for the city.”
“It’s huge, for the club, for the city, for all of us on the team,” echoed center back Robin Jansson. “We are not there yet, but we have one game left, and we need to put everything out there and we’re gonna chase a good result. Just go out and do what we have done during the tournament, being solid defensively and attacking-wise very good as well. We’re looking forward to it, it’s big for the club and the city, and hopefully we can bring something good.”
The Lions have brought plenty of good in the past month, their unbeaten and often dominant run stunning observers across the country and putting Orlando City in the center of the national spotlight. The team has trained tirelessly to produce beautiful possession-oriented soccer, and Orlando City has shown it game in and game out, carving through intense high pressure from heavyweights like LAFC, NYCFC, and Minnesota United.
“We are prepared for everything,” said Urso, noting how hard the team worked to stay fit and ready during the league’s hiatus for the coronavirus pandemic. “We started in January, but when the pandemic started, we kept training, we kept working hard, every day we had a video call with the coaches to keep our conditioning to come here and do our best. So we are prepared for everything, we are strong. We want this trophy.”
Orlando City went straight back to work on Friday, not content to rest on their laurels after Thursday night’s 3-1 win over Minnesota in the semifinal. The team conditioned in the hotel the day after the game, then hit the training field for an intense session on Saturday. Preparations, both physical and mental, will continue at full tilt right up to the game.
“We have to keep a strong mentality,” said Urso. “Three months ago, we came and worked every day for these opportunities. So I think everyone is prepared for this game. Let’s put everything on the field. We have good staff here who care about us, so we can do our best again and let’s try to take this trophy home.”