UPDATE (April 22, 2:07 pm ET): During his midweek media availability, Orlando City SC head coach Oscar Pareja said that striker Alexandre Pato is "doing better" but they're going to hold him out of Friday night's game (7:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes) at Sporting Kansas City as a precaution.
The Brazilian forward originally suffered a lower-body injury during his MLS debut, a 0-0 draw last weekend against southeast rival Atlanta United.
"We’ll have to be careful during the week, but so far he’s recovering and we’re analyzing the right time to bring him back to the competition," Pareja said. "This week, I’m going to keep him out and now we wait for the other games. But he’s feeling much better."
UPDATE (April 19, 10:06 am ET): The injury concern for Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato is apparently not as bad as first feared with Orlando Sentinel reporter Julia Poe tweeting that the club confirmed a lower-body injury, but surgery isn't necessary. There's no timetable for his return.
ORIGINAL: The Orlando City SC community is waiting with bated breath for official word on Alexandre Pato’s health after the Brazilian forward got injured during a 0-0 draw against Southeast rival Atlanta United on Saturday afternoon.
Pato exited in the 80th minute of his MLS debut after landing awkwardly while avoiding a slide tackle from Five Stripes’ midfielder Franco Ibarra. The 31-year-old immediately clutched near his right knee, though departed the Lions’ 2021 season opener under his own power after being attended to by the training staff.
Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja didn’t have an update during his postgame press conference, noting they’re waiting for doctors to provide more information.
“We're waiting and may God just help us on Pato and [that] he's not hurt,” Pareja said. “We'll wait until the doctors diagnose him.”
Pato signed with Orlando City this past February, last playing for Brazilian Serie A side Sao Paulo. He joined on a one-year deal as a free agent, notably not requiring the Designated Player slot one might expect of a striker whose résumé includes European sides AC Milan, Chelsea and Villarreal.
If Pato does miss time, the Lions could turn to Tesho Akindele or Matheus Aias as central options. Daryl Dike is still on loan at Barnsley through the English Championship season’s end, helping them chase promotion to the Premier League.
“We have other players, too," Pareja said. "We don't want to lose any and probably one of the things that hurts the most from the coach's standpoint is just to see any player get hurt. So let's wait, but now we have to keep going. It's just the start of the season.”
Pato enjoyed bright moments against Atlanta, nearly breaking the scoreless deadlock with a left-footed shot in the 72nd minute. He also combined beautifully with midfielder Sebastian Mendez in the 62nd minute, but their link-up didn’t produce a breakthrough.
Now, Orlando hope that Pato returns at full strength as they continue building under Pareja’s guidance. Up next, the Lions face travel to face Sporting Kansas City on Friday night (7:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes)
“Good game for Alex indeed,” Pareja said. “That commitment that he has with his team, tried to create from that zone where we put him in the first half. I think we could find those spaces and then he's very crafty with the ball and creates some chances for us. Second half as well, when we stretch him as a No. 9, we had the best of him, put him in front of the goal twice.”