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Orlando City ‘deserve’ to be in MLS Cup Playoffs

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The difference between Orlando City’s form either side of the US Open Cup final is as clear as night and day.

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Before their landmark clash with the Sacramento Republic, the Lions enjoyed a four-match winning run that included triumphs over Concacaf Champions League winners Seattle Sounders and reigning MLS Cup champions NYCFC.

But since lifting their first-ever trophy as an MLS club, Orlando have fallen to four defeats in five matches, with their only victory coming against Toronto FC, who are 13th in the Eastern Conference.

“My answer would be that it’s natural that after that high moment, a reaction could happen,” head coach Oscar Pareja responded when asked about a post-Open Cup hangover. “It’s difficult for me to analyze it that way.”

Hangover or not, Orlando have a job to do.

Pareja’s side head into Decision Day eighth in the East, a point behind FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew in the final two MLS Cup Playoffs spots.

However, Orlando have their destiny in their own hands with their final regular-season game coming at home to the Crew. The formula is simple: win and in.

“We’re trying just to focus and trying to concentrate because we need to win,” Pareja continued. “This group needs and deserves to be in the playoffs for what they have achieved during the year. But we have to value that by winning against a good rival. If we don’t do it, then we don’t deserve to be in it.”

As Orlando’s top scorer with 11 goals, Austrian striker Ercan Kara will be key to their Decision Day hopes and is well aware of the levels required to beat a Crew side that have lost just one of their last 11 matches.

“We know the importance of the game,” he said. “We need to give more than 100 percent and we have only one decision. That’s to win it.”

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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