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Red Bulls’ Luis Robles on Orlando City’s Nani: ‘He still has a lot left in the tank’

Mar 16, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City forward Nani (17) against the Montreal Impact at Orlando City Stadium. Montreal Impact defeated Orlando City 3-1. (Matt Stamey/USA TODAY Sports)

HANOVER, N.J. — Luis Robles has plenty of reasons to be wary of Orlando City SC, who come to Red Bull Arena Saturday night.

Of primary concern for the New York Red Bulls goalkeeper is the Lions dangerous and versatile attack that now includes former Manchester United standout Nani, who has a pair of assists in three appearances, including two starts since transferring from Sporting CP.

“From what we’ve seen so far he still has a lot left in the tank,” Robles said. “He can have the sort of impact on the game that can turn it on its head. We have to be aware of him, but he’s not the only piece.”

Robles included Dom Dwyer, former Red Bulls teammate Sacha Kljestan and Chris Mueller as other threats.

And although Orlando are coming off a difficult 3-1 home defeat to the Montreal Impact, conceding twice in quick succession following defensive miscues, Robles remembers well what happened when the wounded Lions met the Red Bulls early in the 2018 season at Orlando City Stadium.

“When you think about last year, they were struggling and we went down there and we were the beginning of their six or seven game win streak,” the Red Bulls captain said when recalling a 4-3 defeat last March. “I don’t want that to be the case this year. And yet, when we prepare for them, we know their offensive pieces are very dangerous.”

Red Bulls coach Chris Armas also said learned a valuable lesson about being careless against Orlando during the preseason.

“They found many different ways to to get after us so we have a lot of respect for that team and the individual players,” Armas said. “We think they’re organized and well coached so it’s a tough test come Saturday.”

As one of 10 teams to play during the current FIFA international window, the Red Bulls will be without four key starters, with Aaron Long (United States), Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica), Michael Amir Murillo (Panama) and Kaku (Paraguay) with their respective national teams.

That means another test of the Red Bulls’ depth.

“I think the coaches have a lot of confidence in the roster,” said Vincent Bezecourt, the likely replacement for Kaku at the No. 10 spot. “Like you saw last year, some guys stepped up and now it’s up to us to step up if we get the call up. There’s going to be some rotation, it’s a long season. Now its up to us to be ready when we are called up.”

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