Orlando City SC have already played in one final this season, losing to the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back Tournament title game, and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese has his sights set on MLS Cup in December.
“We are stronger now, we are correcting the mistakes that we have been making in the back,” Gallese said after the Lions defeated Chicago Fire FC 4-1 Saturday night. “We want to make it to the playoffs and be in the finals. This is our goal.”
Orlando City SC are flying at the moment, riding a six-match unbeaten run, which includes four victories, and are second in the Eastern Conference table, five points behind Columbus Crew SC.
The Peruvian goalkeeper played a pivotal role in the latest win, sprawling to his right to get a touch on an Alvaro Medran penalty kick attempt after Medran and Robert Beric debated who would take it.
“I saw their teammates arguing, but I was focused,” Gallese said. “I chose to go to the right side and made the save.”
PENALTY KICK SAVE: Pedro Gallese, Orlando City - 36th minute
Although Gallese would later be beaten from the spot, Orlando coach Oscar Pareja lauded his goalkeeper’s performance in his club’s latest win.
“Always proud of the goalkeepers who keep their teams in the game or keep the lead when they need it and Pedro’s experience and leadership today showed,” Pareja said. “I’m proud of Pedro, just giving us energy in that moment that we needed and he came up big and tonight was a great game for him again.”
During their current run of form, Orlando have conceded just one goal in each of their last six games. Gallese shared the praise with his center backs who are continuing to build their partnership with the goalkeeper.
“Every time we go out, we’re continuing to improve,” Gallese said. “We’re growing with Robin [Jansson], Antonio Carlos, Rodrigo [Schlegel] when he gets selected to play. I think we’re very strong, we’re set up well defensively and we’re pretty consistent and continuing to grow. It’s better and better every game.”
While it remains to be seen if Orlando City SC can play in the MLS Cup Final, Pareja said the qualities he saw from his team Saturday night lends itself to postseason success.
“The best thing that I can take out of this night and this match the way it went is that we have the consistency we needed during the game to suffer the tough moments,” Pareja said. "We didn’t get desperate, we accepted that we had a rival with initiative too and they created chances. When that happens and you absorb that pressure and you absorb those difficult moments and then as a team, you overcome them and then that means that we’re getting mature. The game today has a lot of lessons for us, and as I said we’re proud of this group of guys that are growing and making a case in the league and hopefully we can continue with this.”