Kaká in the inaugural game. The opening win at Exploria Stadium. The Running of the Wall. Rodrigo Schlegel’s playoff save.
Orlando City and New York City FC go all the way back to the beginning of their respective existences in MLS. They’ll meet for the 19th time in all competitions this Saturday in Orlando, their first encounter since Schlegel saved Gudmunder Thorarinsson’s penalty kick to propel Orlando City to victory in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“The matches against [NYCFC] have a tendency to be very emotional,” said Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja. “At this stage, every game is so important just to keep building the confidence and to keep adding points. I know it’s early but our commitment with the competition is to try to get the most points we can get, and we’re thinking that New York City will be a great measurement for us.”
“I think the emotions we lived in the last year and the playoffs, they are already gone,” added Orlando City midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. “This is a new season, this is a new year and this is a different game. Those emotions we should keep in our memories, but we know that this is a different game. [NYCFC] are coming from good results and are playing good football and we are in the same spot.”
Pereyra made his season debut last weekend, playing 59 minutes as City brushed aside FC Cincinnati 3-0. Pareja was pleased with his No. 10’s performance, noting that a knock in training had slowed his preseason preparations.
“Mauricio’s performance was good,” said Pareja. “What he brings to the table for us and the glue that he [is to] the team, it just makes things happen. The team cohesiveness depends a lot on his movements. I’m delighted to see him back into the game.”
“I am happy to be back,” Pereyra said. “I just need to keep going and doing my job and of course the team is in a great moment, so they made it easier.”
Pereyra and the Lions will look to make it seven-consecutive games unbeaten against NYCFC in all competitions this Saturday. The match, presented by JetBlue, will air nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 6 p.m. ET, with local radio coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Real Radio 104.1 FM in English and Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM in Spanish.