With their MLS form back in order, all eyes are now on the US Open Cup final for Orlando City.
After suffering a run of just two wins in 12 league matches, the Lions have now tasted victory in each of their last four MLS outings, most recently beating the Seattle Sounders 3-2 on Wednesday.
It’s a run that pushes Orlando back up to fifth in the Eastern Conference, comfortably above the MLS Cup Playoffs line.
Next up? The US Open Cup final against the Sacramento Republic next Wednesday as Orlando bid to win their first trophy since joining MLS in 2015.
“We’re just facing every challenge one step at a time,” head coach Oscar Pareja said following Wednesday’s victory against the Sounders.
He continued: “Now it’s time to think about Sacramento, the final. Control our emotions. I don’t need to say to this group that they need to take it seriously. They’re professional enough, and this is an unbelievable moment for us. So, that commitment is a quality for our fans.
“But, rest, prepare for the game, concentration, focus on the moment. The moment is the final and we will do that. That’s what we can control.”
Sacramento have been the standout success story from this year’s competition, dumping out three MLS teams (San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy, Sporting Kansas City) to reach this stage.
They’ll now look to become the first lower-league team to win the Open Cup since the Rochester Rhinos’ 1999 success. Pareja is under no illusions about the challenge that awaits.
“We feel optimistic about what we can do,” he said. “We recognize the challenge. We’re playing against a very good team as well who has done a good job on getting their spot in the final. We don’t want to overload the boys mentally, but we’ve got to be in that middle term of being worried about, but not too worried about it during the times that we are responsible and we are committed to things.
“Come and play the game with that energy they have shown in the last few games: Fight, play, and try to get this trophy.”
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