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Three Questions on Orlando City with The Mane Land

A quick preview of tomorrow’s game with those who follow Orlando City the best.

MLS: US Open Cup-Inter Miami CF at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

From time to time we get to discuss an upcoming opponent with a fellow blog on our network. Today is that day as we welcome Ben Miller from The Mane Land to discuss tomorrow’s FC Dallas match with Orlando City SC.

Note: you can find our answers to Ben’s questions on their site today.

BDS: Obviously Orlando had to deal with the USOC this week, how will Oscar Pareja rotate his lineup this weekend and will we see any key players absent from this one?

TML: I think there will definitely be some rotation from the starting XI we saw against Miami midweek. The game went all the way to penalties, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a tweaked lineup. Facundo Torres might be on the bench, as Oscar Pareja said he was experiencing some muscle tightness towards the end of extra time. Junior Urso also went the full 120 minutes, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him get a rest as well.

BDS: This is FCD’s first meeting with Orlando in a couple of years due to the pandemic, what changes have been made by this club going into this year and how have things been under the new ownership group?

TML: There were three major departures for Orlando in the offseason, as Nani, Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller all left. In their place, Ercan Kara and Torres were brought in as Designated Players, and Gaston Gonzalez was also signed although he won’t feature this year after tearing his ACL before joining the Lions. The other truly new face is U-22 Initiative signing Cesar Araujo, who has been an absolute revelation. While Alexandre Pato technically isn’t a new signing, the almost nonexistent minutes he played last year due to a knee injury, means that he too is essentially a new face this year.

Things have been going well so far under the new ownership group. The club has already demonstrated a willingness to listen to the wants/concerns of fans. It opened up two preseason matches to the public after initially announcing that they would all be played behind closed doors, a move that was done in response to the desire of fans to be able to attend a game. Likewise, the team’s U.S. Open Cup match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies was moved to Exploria Stadium after originally being slated to take place in a smaller venue, something that again was done in response to what they were hearing from fans. Last night there was also a $5 draft beer special at the stadium, seemingly in response to fan concerns about the price of concessions. There’s also been willingness to invest in the team with the four new signings, one of which was a club record in Facundo Torres. So far, so good!

MLS: Orlando City SC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

BDS: We can’t do a preview with you all without discussing Pareja more. How has he been as manager so far? What do you all like about his style and what would you like to see different out of him against his old club?

TML: Things have been pretty damn good under Pareja. Orlando has made the playoffs in both years, made the final of the MLS is Back tournament, and is in the midst of a nice little U.S. Open Cup run. I like that he wants his team to keep possession and build with the ball, and when that style of play works it looks really really good. At times I think the rotation of the team throws up some interesting selection choices, and sometimes I’d like him to be a little more liberal with substitutions in games where something just isn’t working. For the most part, though, it’s been awesome having him at the reigns and it seems like the club is moving in the right direction.