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Cavalry FC Eryk Kobza

Preview: Cavalry Banking On Belief In Second Leg Against Orlando

By on February 27, 2024 0 795 Views

Like a tale fittingly crafted by Disney, Canadian visitors Cavalry FC are calling on the power of their own belief when it comes to a tough second leg against MLS hosts Orlando City.

The Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between the two is tipped in favour of the latter, who won three-nil away from home in last week’s reverse fixture. First blood from Duncan McGuire and a brace from Facundo Torres left Orlando with one foot into the second round, where Liga MX giants Tigres await.

It’s not all said and done, however, with valiant visitors Cavalry prepared to go on the offensive at Inter & Co Stadium tonight in Orlando, Florida. Here’s three big factors to watch out for in the knockout match:

Cavalry FC Sergio Camargo
Photo Credit: Concacaf

Cavalry Press Will Continue

The opening leg saw Cavalry storm out of the gate with some impressive advances in the final third, but the side frequently found themselves caught out on some dazzling Orlando counters – just the way Orlando boss Oscar Pareja likes to play. Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s side had a couple opportunities in front of net, but proved far less clinical than their Major League Soccer counterparts in leg one.

The three-nil deficit is a high hurdle to leap, particularly with away goals in effect. To that end, midfielder Charlie Trafford told the Calgary Herald that he expects the team to run out of the gave with a ‘seven out of ten’ intensity as they push to shock their opponents early and, should they grab an early goal or two, make a real go of things.

“I think three goals is not insane in a game,” says the midfielder. “It happens, so I think we can’t afford to get over-stretched. We need to kind of still grow into the game.”

It’s do-or-die for Cavalry’s first foray into continental action, and while they’ll stick true to their high-press identity, one imagines at the very least Tommy will want to strike blood quickly against their higher-rated opposition, who pack a wage bill nearly ten times his club’s own.

“We’ve got to go in with a belief that we’re here to win a game of football,” added Tommy in the pre-game press conference. “We’re not here to just be a sparring partner for Orlando for their game against Miami, or the next round, we’ve got to make sure we come in here with the mindset we can win a football match.”

Orlando City Luis Muriel
Photo Credit: Orlando City SC

DP Talent: Orlando Teases Muriel Debut

To make things even tougher for the visitors, Orlando City teased that newly-signed designated player Luis Muriel will be available for selection tomorrow. The 32-year-old came in from Serie A side Atalanta two weeks ago, and the Colombian playmaker is expected to be a creative attacking outlet for The Lions – and one Cavalry should fear.

Fellow designated player Facundo Torres scored a brace in the opening leg, while Orlando’s other DP Martin Ojeda proved a menace out wide. Last week also saw former Champions Cup winner Nicolas Lodeiro make his debut off the bench against Cavalry, and he’s a DP-calibre player despite not being contracted as one.

With Pareja having fielded a full-strength roster while away at Starlight, it looks like the head coach will continue to field high-calibre starting lineup against Cavalry in leg two. There’ll be no reprieve for the visitors on the team sheet.

Cavalry FC Charlie Trafford
Photo Credit: Concacaf

Still Time For History

Cavalry are only the second Canadian Premier League club to feature in the Concacaf Champions Cup: Forge FC have been twice, but have lost all of their matches in the premier continental tournament so far.

That means there’s an illusive ‘forever first’ still up for grabs: the first CPL to land a win in the cup. Cavalry already made history as the first CPL team to ever beat MLS opposition, a feat Tommy says is still on the cards for leg two.

“I was clear with the boys, this is the opportunity we have to make history, to be the first CPL side to win a game in Concacaf Champions Cup,” said the gaffer. “Again, we are in the territory of Orlando, we know that they know this, we saw them play on Saturday. But why not us?”

The Cavalry head coach reflected on the first game, stating that while the team was willing to give everything, conceding a second goal just before half-time took the wind out of their proverbial sales. For an unlikely comeback to be mounted, they’ll have to be mentally strong for all ninety minutes. Despite the scoreline, they march into Orlando with their heads held high.

“It’s exciting, we want to play in big games and we’ve been given the opportunity,” adds last year’s CPL golden boot co-winner Myer Bevan, who says that anything can happen in football.

Tonight’s match between Orlando City and Cavalry FC will kick off at 6:00PM EST and will be available live on OneSoccer for viewers in Canada.

Should Cavalry end its first foray into continental action here, all three Canadian sides who had qualified for the Concacaf Champions Cup will be eliminated given that Forge and the Vancouver Whitecaps have already bowed out in the first round.

After that, Cavalry’s next match isn’t scheduled until its away day season opener against Forge on April 13.

Header Image Photo Credit: Concacaf

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