The Red Bulls are off to a solid start to their 2018 campaign as they continue in the league with a big road match down in Orlando, Florida as they take on the purple & golden lions of Orlando City.
But this trip to Orlando will not be the same as usual as the Red Bulls for the second consecutive season will face a former captain of the club in midfielder Sacha Kljestan. The trade that sent Kljestan to Orlando for forward Carlos Rivas & defender Tommy Redding so far has done well statistics wise even though it’s only been four weeks into the season.
“I can’t say a bad word about Sacha he’s done so much for me being a mentor for me and I’m so grateful for his help on a personal level and on a team level for me.“ said Sean Davis, ”He’s done so much for this club and nothing but respect for him and what he was able to accomplish here.”
Since returning to MLS from Anderlecht in Belgium, Kljestan was apart of the 2nd Supporters Shield winning season in 2015. Thru three years Kljestan played in 97 matches and compiling a grand totals of 15 goals and 51 assists and earned 20 assists in 2016, so this should be an entertaining match.
“It’ll be nice to see Sacha (Kljestan). he was such a great player for three years, he formed a lot of great relationships with a lot of people within the organization the staff and the team, so a lot of people will be excited to see him and me personally.” said Jesse Marsch
Kljestan just returned from his two match suspension after his dust up with Jozy Altidore in the playoffs at BMO Field when they argued in the first half and then took it inside the tunnel and into the Toronto FC Locker Room area.
Kljestan earned a red card inside the tunnel before the start of the 2nd half and after a lengthy investigation from the league not only did Kljestan had to take a one game suspension to carry over into this season, but earned a second game suspension for his altercation going into the Toronto locker room.
But the start of Orlando’s season hasn’t been good, so far in their first three games of the season they have suffered two straight losses and a three match winless streak after they saved a point in their home opener against DC United.
“It’s going to be a very tough game and they are off to a very tough start, but we know they are a very good team and they are playing desperate so they will come out very strong at home and we have to be ready for that with the right mentality.“ said Davis
But at the moment Orlando City has some wounded that won’t be available for this match and they are big blows for their offense and defense. Former Miami FC striker Stefano Pinhpo is out with a right ankle injury and defender Jonathan Spector is out indefinitely with a concussion.
But they will still have some dangerous players on the field like former Columbus Crew & Iraq International Striker Justin Mearm who was traded to Orlando before pre-season training began.
“They restructured their backline and missing Spector is a big piece for them in the back so a big job on the day for us is to test their backline.” said Jesse Marsch “To make them deal with us so the best way to make a team deal with that is not just to play in front of them, but to test them with movement behind with aggressive movement when the ball goes wide so we will be doing that.“
After their league match is over, the Red Bulls will remain in Orlando to train and get ready for their first leg semi-final in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League as they travel a day or two after the match.
The trip to Guadalajara, Mexico will be a tough one as the club knows they have to deal with their opponents, but the Altitude as well which will be slightly higher than in Colorado or Utah. So this will be a huge moment for the club once they are finished with Orlando.
But for now three points are on the line once again for the team in Red as they face a struggling Orlando City side and hopefully they can take the advantage and move on to their next game in the 1st leg semi-Finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.