The District Press team had a chance to chat with Ben Miller of Mane Land to get the scoop on what we can expect from Orlando City on Saturday, what the fans are thinking about the Ruan trade, the “Rooney curse,” and more!
How do you expect Pareja to handle the short rest from the CCL game midweek?
I absolutely think you’ll see a rotated Orlando side. Particularly after getting a result on the road in Monterrey, OCSC does have a chance to get past Tigres into the next round, and I expect that to be the primary focus. That may take the form of Oscar Pareja playing some of his big guns for the first 45-60 minutes, trying to get a lead and then hang on for it and get out of town, or there could just be a number of backups playing from the start. I think there’s a case to try and give some of the starters a run-out, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, as that isn’t really clicking yet, but I’m not sure he’ll go that route. Regardless, don’t expect a fully first-choice XI.
What is the sentiment around facing Ruan in Black-and-Red?
Trading him away was bittersweet. He was the Lions’ starting right back for four years, and he helped provide plenty of fond memories during his time here. With that being said, I think most fans are well aware of his limitations at this point. He’s got great speed and can beat his defender 1v1, but his final ball was severely lacking during his time in purple, and his defending often left something to be desired. It’ll be strange seeing him with another team’s colors on, but I think most people have made their peace with it.
Any feelings on the D.C. – Orlando “magic” (or, in Orlando’s case, curse) every time the Lions play at Audi Field/face Wayne Rooney?
It absolutely exists; there’s no doubt about that. Rooney seems to be this team’s kryptonite for whatever reason, so we’ll see if that holds true this year. Frankly, I won’t be surprised at all if Orlando blows a two-goal lead and loses 4-2. It would be extremely on-brand for this matchup.
Are there any players who will be unavailable due to injury, suspension, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
Ramiro Enrique went off injured during Tuesday’s CCL match with Tigres and was not outside at practice on Thursday, but there’s been no official word on his status. Antonio Carlos has been out with a leg injury but was a full participant in training on Thursday, so while I don’t think he’ll start, he might make an appearance. For a lineup, I’ll go with; Pedro Gallese; Rafael Santos, Abdi Salim, Rodrigo Schlegel, Mikey Halliday; Wilder Cartagena, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson; Gaston Gonzalez, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres; Duncan McGuire. Score prediction: 2-2 draw
Orlando City SC played its first season eight years ago. Since then, nine more teams have joined the league. Do the fans feel like the team is still one of the new kids on the block, or is there an air of “veterancy” around the club?
I think most people feel like Orlando is well-established at this point, especially considering all the new faces that have joined since the 2015 season. With that being said, I do think fans are adjusting to the Lions being a consistently more competitive team. Having suffered so badly for so long, I think there’s a bit of trepidation that all of the progress that’s been made could come crashing down at any moment because we don’t deserve nice things. There’s also a burning desire for the team to prove itself and be recognized as a true force within the league, so I think, in that sense, there’s a feeling that this club has something to prove.