Orlando City

Win and in: Orlando City prepare for crucial Leagues Cup match against Liga MX side Santos Laguna

ORLANDO, Fla. — Although it technically doesn't start until next week, the knockout rounds of the Leagues Cup have already started for Orlando City.

The Lions need a win against Santos Laguna, either in regulation or in the penalty shootout, to secure their spot in the next round of the Leagues Cup. 

“It’s a great opportunity to compete against a good rival like Santos Laguna," Lions head coach Oscar Pareja said on Friday. "Obviously, it's going to increase this rivalry between the leagues of Mexico and the United States. [Our] mission is to continue [in Leagues Cup]  and advance to the next round. The players are good, we are optimistic, and we are looking forward to a good game.”

The match on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m. kickoff | MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (subscription required), will be a rematch of the first iteration of the Leagues Cup back in 2021, when the Lions hosted Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals of the tournament. That game was closely contested, with Orlando narrowly falling to the Liga MX side 1-0.

"The most important thing for us is that we have the same ideas with the same training and the coaching staff," Lions captain Mauricio Pereyra said. "So the idea that we are having during these almost four years that Oscar has been here, and we continue with that. The names and the players are changing but the idea is the same, so we'll try to have revenge for the last game."

Only four players remain on the Lions squad that played in that match against Santos Laguna two seasons ago, while on the other side, the Liga MX side has shuffled between two separate coaches and mass turnover in players. 

Despite that, there is still something to glean from for Pareja and his staff, whether it's the players or the culture of the team, to take into this pivotal match tonight. 

"We're not the same Orlando, and they're not the same, Santos in terms of players and coaches, and their end. We looked back and saw what we can get out of that experience and see how can we apply that towards this next game."

Odds and ends

  • Goalkeeper Adam Grinwis is back in training after missing time being in concussion protocol and is no longer listed on the injury report.

Don't miss Kickoff -60, airing one hour before Orlando City's match against New York, 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.