Tick, tick, tick…
The 2021 Orlando City regular season, presented by Orlando Health, is inching closer by the day. The Lions open up next Saturday, April 17 at 3 p.m. ET against the returning 2019 MLS Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez and Atlanta United at Exploria Stadium. To prepare for next weekend’s home opener, also presented by Orlando Health, Oscar Pareja’s Lions have continued to put in work on and off the field.
On it, Orlando City played two scrimmages last week, defeating FC Cincinnati 1-0 in a rain-shortened contest on Wednesday before playing the Chicago Fire to a 2-2 draw over the weekend. Homegrown defender Michael Halliday scored for the first time in purple against Cincy while Chris Mueller and Homegrown Benji Michel both tallied against the Fire. Saturday’s session took place at Exploria Stadium behind closed doors.
“We’re still getting in the rhythm of things,” said Mueller after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I think it was good to be back in the stadium, get some touches with the guys, get a lot of good load minutes against a good team. I think we’re starting to click, and I think the chemistry will get going and be ready by April 17.”
Off the field, the Lions have added two pieces in recent weeks, signing forward Wilfredo Rivera and midfielder Raul Aguilera to Homegrown contracts. Rivera joined the Orlando City Academy in 2018 and has been capped by his native Puerto Rico, while Aguilera returned to the Lions’ set-up last year after three seasons at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rivera and Aguilera are the ninth and 10th Homegrown signings in Orlando City history, respectively. That number has doubled in just two seasons with Luiz Muzzi at the helm of soccer operations.
Orlando City will play one more preseason scrimmage on Friday at Exploria Stadium against Minnesota United before embarking on final preparations for next Saturday’s season opener. More details on the game, including ticketing information and return to stadium protocols, can be found here.