Pareja Flush with the attackers at the start of the camp
Orlando City scored 40 goals in just 23 games during Major League Soccer 2020’s truncated regular season, a pace that would have broken its previous record over a full campaign.
In 2021, the Lions could claim even more firepower.
“Last year I thought [the attack] was a big step forward towards what we want … but at the same time we want to improve, ”Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja said during his first pre-season press conference. -season 2021. “We know and understand that this is a very competitive league, and in order to achieve [our] goals, we want to be better and that’s why we aim to bring in two more offensive players.
Brazil forward Alexandre Pato and Dutch winger Silvester van der Water were both acquired in the offseason to provide “versatility”, according to Pareja. He hopes to have both players through the visa process and at camp by the middle of next week.
Pato and van der Water will join a group of deep and talented scorers. Pareja took stock of his attacking body and came away impressed.
“Nani came [into camp] even better physically, ”he said. “The other boys, Matheus Aiás, Tesho [Akindele], [Alexander] Alvarado, ditto with Mauricio Pereyra, [David] Loera, Jordan Bender has also arrived in an awesome, awesome, awesome mode and it looks like he’s so eager to step up. Chris Mueller and the other boys, so we’re very optimistic.
Nani has been captain of Orlando City each of the past two seasons and led the team to the MLS is Back tournament finals and their first MLS Cup playoff appearance in 2020. Mueller burst into the picture of the US national team with a 10-goal campaign in the season cut short, while Pereyra pulled the strings and placed among the league leaders in assists by 90 minutes.
And then there’s Daryl Dike, who became an overnight sensation with eight goals in 15 starts, international selection and a short-term loan with England league side Barnsley FC. Dike tore him apart in England, scoring twice and leading Barnsley to six straight league wins, putting the Reds firmly in the promotion image. Dike’s loan ends with the end of the championship season in May.
With firepower to spare, Pareja’s expectations for 2021 remain higher than ever.
“I said on the first day of my arrival at this club over a year ago that … I still aim to win titles,” said Pareja. “I think that’s the least I can convey to our players and the culture we want to develop in Orlando. Our goals should always be the highest, and the highest is to pursue the grand prize, which is to win cups and titles, and I won’t say anything different this year. This is what we are looking for.