MLS

Orlando's Pareja planning tweaks for rematch with Messi and Miami

By Sports Desk May 14, 2024

Oscar Pareja accepts Orlando City need to tweak their approach ahead of Wednesday's rematch with Florida rivals Inter Miami, who thrashed them 5-0 when the teams last met in early March.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored two goals apiece as Miami crushed Orlando in their third game of the season in Fort Lauderdale, one of their MLS-high eight wins in 2024. 

Miami have won each of their last five games – the latest being a 3-2 triumph at CF Montreal on Saturday – to stay three points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference, while Orlando are languishing in 11th.

Pareja's team enter Wednesday's derby in good spirits after beating the Philadelphia Union 3-2 last time out, though, and he is relishing the quick turnaround.

"This is a project where you have to be prepared every day. After this result in Philadelphia, we have to prepare the derby, then think about going to the West Coast," he said.

On Miami, he added: "There are always two ways to prepare the games. 

"Normally we think about putting relevancy on the way we do things, but obviously we have to have references on the other team.

"How can we impose our model or control them? We already have a game where we played them, and we'll try to make less mistakes than we did that day."

During Miami's last match, Messi hit out at a newly introduced rule which forced him to leave the pitch due to requiring treatment following a heavy challenge from Montreal's George Campbell.

Had Campbell been booked, the restart would have been delayed for Messi.

As he was not, Miami were forced to play with 10 men for two minutes, but Matias Rojas scored a free-kick in the Argentine's absence, kickstarting their comeback from 2-0 down.

Coach Gerardo Martino said of the incident: "With these new rule changes, there are situations that must be revised. 

"The foul was clear and was a yellow card, and ultimately it was us that lost Leo for two minutes."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Orlando City – Nicolas Lodeiro 

Lodeiro assisted all three of Orlando's goals against the Union last time out, becoming the third player in club history to tee up three goals in an MLS game, after Kaka and Yoshimar Yotun. 

The former Seattle Sounders man is also one of just nine players in MLS history to have a three-assist game with two different teams.

Inter Miami – Luis Suarez 

Suarez's goal against Montreal last time out was his 11th in MLS this season, taking him ahead of Messi in the Golden Boot race. 

The Uruguayan leads the way despite only making nine league starts, and he also scored twice in Miami's 5-0 rout of Orlando back in March.

MATCH PREDICTION – ORLANDO CITY WIN

Despite Miami's fine form, there are definitely vulnerabilities to be found – they are the first team in MLS history to concede the first goal in five straight games and win all of them.

They may not be able to rely on rescue acts forever. Orlando overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat Philadelphia 3-2 last time out. 

Since the start of last season, the Lions have won six and drawn five of their 10 MLS games when conceding the first goal. Their average of 1.1 points per game in such contests during that span is second only to FC Cincinnati's 1.13. 

Orlando are also unbeaten in six all-time home matches against Miami, winning two and drawing four. The Herons are the only team Orlando have hosted five or more times and never lost to in MLS play.

With Miami reliant on a few wonderful but ageing stars, the exploits of their recent matches may just catch up with them on Wednesday.  

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Orlando City – 52.8%

Inter Miami – 21%

Draw – 26.2%

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