Orlando City book showdown with Inter Miami & Messi: “We’ll be ready” | MLSSoccer.com
While Inter Miami are soaring after their electric, Messi-led wins over Cruz Azul and Atlanta United, Orlando City are riding some equally positive momentum.
Cartagena’s match-winner bookended a hard-fought, entertaining match, which saw Orlando erase a 1-0 deficit on the strength of goals from Duncan McGuire and Mauricio Pereyra, only to see Santos’ Harold Preciado net a 58th-minute equalizer. That set the stage for Cartanega, who converted a redirected shot off an assist from César Araújo that set off raucous scenes at Exploria Stadium.
“I think we gave a great step today towards our objectives and obviously keep working forward in Leagues Cup, but also to many other things that are going to help us for the end of the season,” Pareja said. “So great game. I thought it was a very complete performance the whole game and we fought a team in Santos that was all the time making a great opposition with great players.”
The Lions will need an equally gutsy effort to advance past an Inter Miami side that’s looked transformed entirely by the infusion of Messi and Busquets. Matching up with the iconic former FC Barcelona duo (and potentially Alba) presents a daunting challenge, but Pareja expressed confidence his team will be up for the occasion.
“This is a competition, man. We faced one of the best teams in Mexico today, with fantastic players,” Pareja said. “And now we knew that it was going to be moments where Santos were going to hurt us. You don’t want it, but it’s a natural thing. But we resist it, and not just resist it, but we found ways to hurt and scoring three goals against them is not an easy task.
“So we’re good. The evolution is there. We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground because this is the game. But there is certainly a lot of stuff today that we want to keep doing.”