Three games into the MLS is Back Tournament, three positive results for the Lions.
It’s been a strong showing for Orlando City thus far in its return to play, with two wins and a draw against a formidable Philadelphia side to secure the top spot in Group A of the competition heading into the Knockouts.
The consistency of such results has been something the Club has craved for some time and a major touchpoint for Head Coach Oscar Pareja and his staff since the start of their tenure. Through three matches in the tournament, so far so good, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
“It’s a day-by-day thing. We have the desire and the commitment. We’re creating a culture here, the players are creating a culture also, but it’s something that is daily work. We are very proud of the job that they have done in these three games,’ Pareja said of the team’s start to the tournament.
“It’s not just one game, but it has been three with three very good teams and we’re believing in what we’re doing. Step by step we’ll keep growing and we have the commitment with our fans and with the Club and the players and we’re proud.”
The level of commitment from the players has been on full display thus far, with the team showcasing a buy-in to Pareja’s system on the pitch. On the defensive end, there is a noticeable cohesion amongst the back four in João Moutinho, Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson and Ruan. In the attack, the group has shown a level of prowess and a nose for goal, with six goals in the back of the net throughout the group stage.
While much of the roster looks relatively similar from a year ago, the newfound mentality and resilience of the group was evident yet again on Monday, earning their second come-from-behind result of the tournament.
For those that have been with the Club for some time, the changes are on full display and something to be proud of in the continued push forward.
“I think that there are a lot of things that have changed and I can point you to one. We are a much better team, obviously the results show that but I feel like when you watch the games you can see the consistency and you can see that we are improving every day,’ midfielder Uri Rosell said after Monday’s match.
“Right now I feel like we are in a good spot and every day that we play we feel better, we gain more confidence and today we showed that. We knew that we would be first [in Group A] with a tie, but we wanted to win. Each time that we step on the pitch we will give it our all to win every game and that's our mentality.”
The Lions will now look ahead to their Round of 16 matchup, slated for Saturday, July 25 at 8 p.m. ET. While the opponent is yet to be determined, there is no doubt that Pareja and his staff will have the group prepared for any and all situations or opposition they may face.
“We are taking it one step at a time, this is our way of building up. The players know that they will rest tomorrow, they will create their own objectives and we will just guide them. We have a team with a lot of desire, goals and I will say it again, they are getting stronger and we will face the next game with a different objective,” Pareja said.
“During this first phase we wanted to accumulate the majority of points for the regular season and qualify in first [place], which we have accomplished. Now we will play one game at a time during the knockout phase."