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May 26, 2023 2:00 pm

Atlanta aims to flex offensive muscle vs. Orlando City

Offense has been on the uptick for Atlanta United and Orlando City SC, but that has not factored into enough victories for either team.

They will face each other Saturday night in Orlando.

Orlando City (5-4-4, 19 points) have hit a rough patch in May, winning just once. The club went 1-1-2 in MLS play, although last Saturday’s 3-1 road victory against Inter Miami generated a season-high goal total.

“The group is feeling very proud and happy for the result in Miami,” Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja said. “Right now, it just gives us momentum we want to continue with.”

Atlanta (6-4-4, 22 points) has scored a total of seven goals in its last two games, while going 1-0-1in those outings. Atlanta recorded a 3-3 draw with host Chicago last Saturday.

“I feel like we deserve more,” Atlanta forward Machop Chol said. “It’s kind of been a trend of us not being able to close out games. It’s just trying to find a way to make sure we can secure points.”

Orlando’s quest is to make sure good stretches translate into desired results.

“We’re aiming for that magical word we’re always talking about and that’s ‘consistency,'” Pareja said. “We have had very good performances with bad results before. We’re still away from our best. We have to continue with what we showed in Miami.”

One of Orlando’s goals last weekend came from Rafael Santos, who scored in MLS play for the first time.

“We’re just going to keep moving forward and hopefully it’s the first of many,” Santos said.

Meanwhile, Orlando forward Ercan Kara has scored in three consecutive matches.

“They actually look for him in the build up a lot,” Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “So, we just need to play our normal game, where we try to be good in possession.”

Kara’s four goals this season have him tied with rookie Duncan McGuire for the team lead.

Yet Orlando City SC will be missing some of their firepower as forward Gaston Gonzalez left last week’s game in Miami with a hamstring injury. He won’t be ready to play against Atlanta.

Atlanta’s scoring has been noticed by Orlando.

“They have guys up front with crafty things and some with speed (that) we need to control,” Pareja said. “(Atlanta) is a team as well that is looking for their best form just like many other teams in the league, including us.”

Under Pareja, Orlando has won just three times in nine previous matchups with Atlanta.

–Field Level Media

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