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Brad Guzan, Atlanta United prepare for “very different” Orlando City team

Orlando have started well under new manager Óscar Pareja, and look to pick up its first win over Atlanta on Saturday.

Nashville SC v Atlanta United Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Following the postponement of Atlanta United’s match against Inter Miami CF in the wake of the Jacob Blake incident, things are pointing to Atlanta’s contest on Saturday against Orlando City SC being played as scheduled.

But despite the unplanned layoff, and the pandemic forcing MLS teams to play a compressed schedule, goalkeeper Brad Guzan feels that the club is still ready to take on its Central Florida foe.

“You can use what’s going on from the beginning of the year to where we are now as a crutch or you can look at it in a way of ‘getting on with it’,” Guzan said of the unusual schedule. “I think that’s the way we’ve been looking at it. If you look at our schedule last year, I’m almost certain you can find a part of the schedule where we played Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, so we just have to get on with it.”

Orlando City, as a club, have seen itself off to a strong start under 1st-year manager Óscar Pareja, culminating in a dream run to the MLS Is Back final against the Portland Timbers at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, just minutes from the Lions’ home ground of Exploria Stadium. So with a mark of 7 losses and 2 draws in 9 prior matches across all competitions against the 5 Stripes, the case can be made that this edition has the biggest potential to go quite differently.

“From the outside (looking in), a new manager’s gone in and clearly they’re a different team,” Guzan said. “The manager’s gone in, put his mark on the team and implemented his ideas of how he wants them to play, and you’ve seen some different results than probably what they’re accustomed to.”

Off-topic, Guzan spoke of U.S. men’s national teammate Weston McKennie, who arrived in Italy on Thursday to sign a contract with superclub Juventus as part of a transfer from German side Schalke 04.

“It’s a fantastic move,” he said. “When you’re playing for big, big clubs like (younger players like him) are, it adds another element to the experience of being in Europe and the demands on being a young pro playing over there. I couldn’t be more pleased for him. I know he’s up for the challenge. He’s the type of guy that takes things head on and he’s got that confidence and belief in himself, as he should.”