KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- After a bye week away from games, Orlando City gets back to action this weekend as they travel to St. Paul to take on Minnesota United. This will be the first time the Lions visit Allianz Field since August 2019 when the game finished at a 1-1 draw.
Following Orlando's latest result against Nashville, the team is refreshed mentally and physically, with lots of players with knocks following the multitude of games to start the season getting time to recuperate.
"The boys are good," defender Luca Petrasso told OrlandoCitySC.com. "Everybody's in good spirits. Obviously, it's difficult when you come off a loss and you have that two weeks' time to think about it. It kind of gets to your head before we go on to the next game this weekend, but everybody's been good, and everyone's been enjoying each other.
"It's a long season to go. We know it's a lot of games, but I think we're all ready to go and prepared for this weekend. It'll be a big test in Minnesota."
Minnesota comes into the game following their first loss of the season to the Chicago Fire, after starting the season unbeaten through their first five games.
Both the Lions and the Loons will be looking to get bounce back results, with Minnesota having an advantage of playing in front of their home faithful with weather forecasts predicting temperatures in the high 50s by kickoff Saturday night.
"I watched them over the weekend against Chicago. That was the first loss of the season for them, but they're definitely a very good team at home and their atmosphere and their stadium," Petrasso said.
"We played them in the preseason, which was a good game and so we're kind of familiar with them, but they'll be a good team, strong defensively. They got big boys up top, so it'll definitely be a good game for us to hopefully go there and get three points."
The Loons, who are winless at home with two draws, are a familiar opponent for the Lions, despite over three seasons since they last met in a competitive match. After spending their preseason in Florida, Minnesota faced Orlando in a scrimmage out at Osceola County Stadium, giving both teams a preview of what they could face this weekend.
Lions coach Oscar Pareja is also very familiar with both Minnesota and their manager, Adrian Heath. Heath, the first manager in Orlando City history, spent six years in the City Beautiful before he took over Minnesota in 2017.
Both coaches have faced each other in various competitions going all the way back to when Heath was coaching in Orlando and Pareja was still in charge of the Colorado Rapids.
"Minnesota is a team that has a structure that we know since we faced them in preseason," Pareja said. "I have a good relationship with Adrian as well and I know him from his experiences in the league. But well, we say that every game. They know us, we know him. What we're looking at is trying to use that knowledge and applying it on the pitch and then trying to get what we need.
"First, the victory and the most important is that our chemistry and our system can get more mature."
Orlando City (2-2-2, 8 points) at Minnesota United (3-1-2, 11 points)
When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Allianz Field, St. Paul, Minn.
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (free match)
Radio: 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM (Spanish)