There are just five days to go until Orlando City SC kicks off its first ever Major League Soccer match, provided that small matter of a new collective bargaining agreement is resolved.
The Lions were out at their Sylvan Lake Park training facility today, still working on getting the cohesion that Head Coach Adrian Heath wants to see out of his team.
In the portion of training open to the media, the attacking players worked on finishing, while defensive positions worked on their skills and communication on another field. Afterwards, Heath and central defender Aurelien Collin spoke to the assembled media.
"There's people far more intelligent than me trying to sort this (CBA) out and I have every faith we'll be playing at the weekend," Heath said. "I've just got to prepare. That's something that I can't get involved in. I'm not even aware of where we are at all. I haven't spoken to our ownership in a couple of days.
We're preparing as though we're kicking off at five o'clock on Sunday. And if we don't we'll get ready for whenever it is. Up until now, that's our thought process all along."
Collin says that, like Heath, he and his Lions teammates are thinking more about New York City FC on Sunday than the ongoing CBA negotiations.
"Right now we are focused on March 8 and we've been working very hard today," Collin said. "We don't think about this thing. It's the league and some people have the job to take care of this. In our head we're going to play."
The Frenchman was asked if he sees a resolution coming between MLS and the players' union. "I hope so, because even if the United States is not a very big country of soccer (popularity), the United States without soccer is not the same," he said.
As for the remaining four training days between now and match day, Collin said the team is working hard to fine tune things.
"We're showing a lot of good stuff. We still have small details -- we're a new team -- small little things we have to make perfect for Sunday. Today and tomorrow are very physical and after that we're going to be very focused on the tactic side, which is very important, and then be ready for Sunday."
"I probably would have liked a bit more time (to prepare)," Heaths said. "I've realized that getting 23 people on the same page in five and a half weeks is not the easiest thing in the world, but it's progress. We think we're getting there. We've seen a lot of good stuff in the last four or five weeks and hopefully we'll take that into the game on Sunday."
The good news for Orlando City is the team is fairly healthy as opening day approaches. Carlos Rivas got back onto the field Saturday night, albeit for only two minutes before being sent off, and Cristian Higuita trained today. The biggest lingering situation is with Martin Paterson's knock.
"Pato's the only one that's still got a little problem, with his hamstring, but everybody else is fine," said Heath.
The players are aware of, and excited by, the fact that Orlando City has sold out the Citrus Bowl with more than 60,000 expected for the inaugural MLS match.
"I wish March 8 would be tomorrow," Collin said. "It's going to be amazing. We had a little taste of this when we arrived from Charleston at the airport. I can't wait. It's going to be an amazing game and we really want to win for the fans."
"I just think it's one of them things when you're a professional footballer -- this is what you grew up dreaming of; playing in front of big crowds on the opening day of the season with all the excitement and euphoria that goes with it. We're looking forward to it," Heath said. "It's going to be a special day and we have to make sure that we do our part."