Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja has admitted that his team have big expectations as they head into the MLS is Back Tournament which is scheduled to be held at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex.
The regular Major League Soccer season has been scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead, there will be a special 26-team World Cup-style tournament in Orlando to decide the next champion.
Ahead of the tournament start on July 8, Orlando became the second team to enter the ‘bubble’ environment inside Disneyland and the players will stay at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel over the course of the tournament.
Speaking in a press conference, Pareja said that there are big expectations for the club, having played no competitive football since mid-March in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
He added that the upcoming competition is ‘fantastic’ and the emphasis now remains on his team competing for the trophy, which has not been the case since their inception to Major League Soccer in 2015.
“Big expectations first because we have been waiting a lot on competing again, just trying to be on that mode of tension and trying to play for points. The competition is fantastic so being again around the game is good but now competing [is] obviously the major expectation that we have,” He told via Vavel.com.
Orlando have been named as the hosts of the ‘MLS is Back’ tournament and they will kickstart the proceedings with a Florida derby against newly-formed franchise Inter Miami on July 8.
Since their inaugural season in the top-flight, Orlando have been a bottom-table club and they have not finished higher than seventh in the Eastern Conference table.
Over the past three campaigns, the club have finished a disappointing 10th, 11th and 11th respectively in the standings and manager Pareja will be hoping to change their fortunes at the upcoming 54-team event.
The MLS is Back tournament will include six groups comprising of 26 teams. Group A consisting of Orlando and Inter will have six teams while the remaining five groups will have four clubs each.
Still, the teams in each group will only play a maximum of three games which were pre-decided before the draw was made. The knockout phase is scheduled to commence from July 25 with the final on August 11.
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