Orlando City became the second team to enter "The Bubble" on Thursday in preparation for the MLS is Back tournament. "The Bubble" is, of course, The Swan and Dolphin Hotel and the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex that will house the MLS players during the duration of the tournament.
After arriving on Thursday, Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja was asked about his expectations going into Disney. Here's what he had to say:
"Big expectations first because we have been waiting a lot on competing again, just trying to be on that mode of tension and trying to play for points. The competition is fantastic so being again around the game is good but now competing [is] obviously the major expectation that we have."
Pareja was also asked about his thoughts on trying to coordinate training times with 25 other teams. Understandably, Pareja labeled this as "a process that is not going to be perfect," but went on to say that every team will have to adjust to it in order for everyone to get the best out of the tournament.
Finally, Pareja was asked about how important it is to help the players maintain focus and create variety in their days. To this, Oscar Pareja had a passionate response fitting of a man nicknamed "El Generalito".
"Players and coaches need to feel blessed to have the opportunity to work first. I think this period and this pandemic has shown us all that we are very fragile, that we can lose our jobs. Many people have, and we still [have] the opportunity to perform. So we have to be grateful, we have to be positive, and sharing fields, sharing restaurants, and sharing things, that's not a problem at all. We will adjust. It's the game that matters right now. It's our club, our clubs, our objectives, the players, and it's the game itself that matters now."
On Friday, Chris Mueller held a press conference via Zoom to answer some media questions about the MLS is Back tournament.
The first question, and possibly the most important one, was about how safe he felt in "The Bubble" due to the COVID-19. Chris responded by praising the MLS for its strict guidelines and said that he felt as safe as possible.
Later in the press conference, he was asked about whether the summer heat would provide Orlando with a slight advantage due to them being accustomed to the weather to which he responded:
"It depends [on] how you look at it really. This is now my third season and I can tell you that it's still really hard to acclimate to the heat. It's really hard for whoever it might be. The heat down here and the humidity is tough but by playing games in the morning and late in the night, I think that is the best way to all around just make it the best scenario for the players because playing during the day just isn't really feasible."
The Orlando winger went on to say "It's extremely hot, extremely humid and it would make for some seriously tough conditions to play in but I think that by playing in the morning and playing at night, you're kind of neutralizing those maybe so-called seen advantages but I don't really see them as an advantage. I think that everyone is going to get down here, we're all going to have time to train, and you're just going to be playing in the middle of the summer. I think that's what it is for everybody."
Orlando City will face off against Inter Miami in the opening match of the MLS is Back tournament on July 8th at 8:00 PM EST.