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Orlando City 2020 Media Day Highlights

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Here are some of the noteworthy things the came out of Orlando City’s 2020 Media Day.

Sean Rollins, The Mane Land

With the 2020 MLS season opener coming up at the end of the month, Orlando City held its annual Media Day this afternoon at Exploria Stadium. The event started with a press conference featuring Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi and Head Coach Oscar Pareja. That was followed by a roundtable with four Orlando City players.

The players made available to the media this afternoon were midfielder Junior Urso, defender Robin Jansson, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, and midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. The players and staff sounded positive about the upcoming season but made it known that they are at the beginning of a long process.

Here are some of the highlights from today’s event.

Muzzi/Pareja Press Conference

  • Muzzi said he was pleased with the work ethic of the Orlando City players in Mexico. “They did three-a-days in Mexico. You see guys at 7 o’clock, doing lunchtime workouts on the beach, and then doing 5 o’clock training sessions. All the guys have very good energy. Great fight, everybody working hard.”
  • Muzzi said that, while he has a plan for the club, it won’t come to fruition right away. However, he’s got the support of the club. “I think it’s hard to say that it’s just my vision. Sure, I had ideas. But ideas don’t go anywhere if you don’t have support from everybody. Ownership, staff, and everybody’s on the same page. I think you’ve seen a lot of things that have changed. Hopefully for the good of the club in the long run. Of course, we need results right away. But I think if you look at everything, the vision of being inclusive. Of having OCB, of having the academy, of having that working, sure I came in with that idea. But if other people don’t share the idea then it doesn’t go anywhere.” He went on to say that “it’s a process. It’s not overnight.”
  • Pareja praised midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. After being asked about his leadership, Pareja said he’s an important player in the team. “He’s a player that has a lot of control in the middle of the field. He’s very smart, he reads the game, and I see in Mauricio someone that can help us in a couple of positions.” Muzzi later added that this year we would see the “full Mauricio.” He said that last year he never had the opportunity to have a preseason, allowing him to build up to the season.
  • Muzzi said that the team is gelling very well together. After training all day in Mexico, they were going out to dinner together. He said this has resulted in both the new guys gelling together as well as with the older guys.
  • When asked about the lack of offensive production last year, Pareja said that scoring goals is a “collective effort.” While the forwards need to score, he said that it’s just as much about building play and creating chances for the forwards.
  • Asked about the team’s identity. Pareja said that they want to be an offensive team that is well organized. He wants to see increased possession and for the team not to lose the ball as easily as he’s seen. He wants his team to “be protagonists in the game.”
  • At the end of the press conference, Pareja had a message for the fans: “You can think that things will go wrong again. Or, you can think that things will be right. That’s an election and, at this point, there’s nothing that I can do that will change that. Because we are in sports and when you compete every day, you can tie, win, or lose. That’s not going to change because there’s a lot of teams that are to be preparing like us to compete. We can go out and do something that is work, a project that has an identity already. We are on the same page. We are trying to get players to represent Orlando in the way that they deserve it. And the fans can elect.”

Junior Urso

  • Urso said that camp in Mexico was the first time that he had trained three times a day in his life. He said that they had training sessions at 7 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. While it was difficult, he said that it made him stronger and more agile.
  • Urso said that he decided to come to Orlando because he wanted to take on the challenge of making the playoffs for a team that has never made it there. “I came to Orlando to write my name in history and also to write my name in the history of MLS.”
  • Urso said that Pareja told him he wants him to play as a box-to-box midfielder, being the connection between the defense and the attack.
  • Urso said that he likes to watch basketball in his spare time. His favorite player is Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook. He has a tattoo of Westbrook on his right leg, right below a tattoo of Ronaldo, his favorite soccer player.

Robin Jansson

  • Jansson said that training with his new center back partner will help them learn about each other. “Maybe he needs to learn a little English and me Portuguese.” But he said that once you have good chemistry, language doesn’t matter. He went on to say that getting over the language barrier is difficult but it helps to say hello to each other each morning and try to speak each other’s language.
  • Jansson said it’s difficult to have a shorter preseason. This one is one month compared to three months in Sweden. But the hard training helps to bridge the gap in time.
  • Jansson said that there are a lot of changes with Muzzi having a full year with the club. But he added that he thinks those changes are for the better.

Pedro Gallese

  • Gallese said that he saw the big name signings, how the league was growing, and wanted to be a part of it. That’s why he decided to come to Orlando.
  • Gallese said that it’s been pretty easy to communicate with his back line since nearly all of them speak Spanish.
  • Gallese said that he has learned to play calmly while playing in the World Cup and Copa America. He added that he can bring that calmness to the back line.
  • Gallese said he spoke with national team teammates Yoshimar Yotun and Carlos Ascues. The pair told him that he would enjoy playing in Orlando. They told him it’s a big club in the United States and the fans always support the team.
  • Gallese said he brings speed, experience, and calmness, which will help the team.

Mauricio Pereyra

  • Pereyra said that he knows he’ll be looked at to take more of a leadership role in this team. This responsibility comes from his age and experience.
  • Pereyra said that having so many new players can be a good thing because it’s “something fresh.” He said that the most important thing is winning and they have a winning mentality now.
  • Another important thing Pereyra pointed out was that the Lions need to defend and attack as a team. He said that was lacking in the past but the team improved on that in Mexico.

With Media Day out of the way, all that’s left between now and the regular season is a trio of preseason matches and a couple more weeks of training.