Mar 17, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Orlando City midfielder Cristian Higuita (7) kicks the ball as New York City defender Rodney Wallace (23) defends during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
With team captain and center back Jonathan Spector definitely out for Saturday’s match against the New York Red Bulls, Orlando City’s back line will likely feature yet another player making his first home start for the Lions.
Lamine Sané, who stepped in for Spector when the latter suffered a concussion two weeks ago against NYCFC, will get his chance to play in front of The Wall Saturday at Orlando City Stadium when the New York Red Bulls visit.
“I’m so excited to play Saturday,” Sané said. “For me, it’s my first game at home. [It’s been] a long time since I played 90 minutes in front of my supporters and I’m so excited.”
He’ll be paired with Amro Tarek, who has started all three of Orlando City’s matches so far. From left to right, Orlando City’s back line should consist of Mohamed El-Munir, Tarek, Sané and either Scott Sutter or RJ Allen.
Sutter started the club’s first two matches – Allen came on in both as a late sub – and Allen started in Orlando City’s loss to NYCFC.
The back line will certainly be tested against a New York Red Bulls squad that loves its high press and is coming off a 3-0 victory over Minnesota United.
The Red Bulls’ fixture list is a bit crowded heading into Saturday’s match. After facing Orlando City, the club on Wednesday has the first leg of its CONCACAF Champions League semifinal at Chivas de Guadalajara.
“We have a good feeling together,” Sané said. “With games and with victories, I think we can play very well together.”
When Sané was first signed, coach Jason Kreis said the center back brought a lot of experience to Orlando City. Sané, who joined the club from Bundesliga side SV Werder Bremen, compared that club’s rough start to what he experienced during his 2016-17 season in the Bundesliga.
SV Werder Bremen lost its first four matches and dropped eight of the club’s first 11 games before bouncing back and finishing in eighth place.
“No pressure, no,” he said. “It’s just the beginning. I had the same experience in Germany. We need time.
“I’m here for my experience. Now we’re working in training and we’ll see this week.”
Sané has already bonded with his new teammates. He joked with midfielder Sacha Kljestan before meeting with the media Tuesday afternoon, and Kljestan stayed to help Sané translate some questions from English into French.
Tarek said he hasn’t noticed a drop-off from Spector to Sané. He added he thinks Orlando City has “the best players in the league.”
“It’s, I think, the same with Spector,” Tarek said. “[Sané has] experience. We’re doing good together.”
He added, “We’re a new team. We’re 18 new players and things take time. I think we’re [going] in the right direction.”
Midfielder Uri Rosell (knee) trained separately from the rest of the team on Thursday. He stayed after Thursday’s training session was over and worked on long balls with Cam Lindley and Scott Sutter. He also worked a bit with midfielder Cristian Higuita.
Striker Stéfano Pinho (ankle) worked with a trainer and left earlier than his teammates.