Orlando City seeks to advance in the Leagues Cup against the competitive Santos Laguna

HARRISON, NEW JERSEY - JUNE 3: Ivan Angulo #77 of Orlando City celebrates his goal in the first half of the Major League Soccer match against New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on June 3, 2023 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)
HARRISON, NEW JERSEY - JUNE 3: Ivan Angulo #77 of Orlando City celebrates his goal in the first half of the Major League Soccer match against New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on June 3, 2023 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images) /
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On this Saturday, at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, Orlando City will face Santos Laguna in the final of the Leagues Cup group stage in a match of extreme importance for both teams. With a do-or-die scenario, both teams will take the field determined to secure the victory and advance to the next phase of the tournament.

Orlando City enters this game in a delicate situation. The team has two points in Group South 2, with Houston leading with three points and Santos Laguna with just one. A win against Santos will guarantee the Lions the top spot in the group and an exciting matchup against Inter Miami next week.

A defeat or draw in regular time will put Orlando City in a tricky situation as they could be eliminated from the competition. If the game ends in a draw and is decided by penalties, the team still has a chance to advance, thanks to their perfect record in penalty shootouts – 8 wins in 8 shootouts.

In this crucial moment, coach Oscar Pareja will have to rely on key players to lead the team to victory. Brazilian defender Antonio Carlos, about to make his 100th appearance in all competitions for Orlando City, has been a crucial piece in the team’s defense, featuring in all of the MLS Cup playoffs matches and the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final. His experience and leadership will be crucial to organize the defense and maintain the team’s solidity.

FOXBOROUGH, MA – JUNE 17: Felipe Martins #8 of Orlando City SC takes a shot during a game between Orlando City SC and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on June 17, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
FOXBOROUGH, MA – JUNE 17: Felipe Martins #8 of Orlando City SC takes a shot during a game between Orlando City SC and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on June 17, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

Additionally, the possible return of Júnior Urso to the team will bring additional energy to the midfield. If he takes the field, it will be his first appearance since last year’s playoff game in Montreal. His presence will bring more balance to the team, both defensively and offensively.

On the other side of the field, Santos Laguna is a formidable opponent. The Mexican team has a successful history in Liga MX, with six league titles, but they are still seeking their first international tournament victory. Under the guidance of Uruguayan coach Pablo Repetto, the team brings a competitive style of play and can be dangerous in attack, as shown by Colombian striker Harold Preciado, who recently scored two goals to secure a draw against Houston.

For Orlando City, it is crucial to maintain defensive concentration while being lethal in attack. Players like Duncan McGuire, who has been showing talent and scoring important goals, will be instrumental in creating offensive opportunities.

This matchup will be a decisive test for both teams. Motivation and determination will be essential to secure the victory. Orlando City has the advantage of the strength of Exploria Stadium and their impeccable record in penalty shootouts, which could be a decisive factor if the game ends in a draw.

Regardless of the result, it will be an exciting and adrenaline-filled match for the fans. Both teams will take the field with the goal of making history and advancing to the next phase of the Leagues Cup. We must wait and cheer for a great football match. May the best team win!