ORLANDO — Orlando City SC may be winless to start the 2018 Major League Soccer season, but Sacha Kljestan is looking toward steering the Lions to their first victory of the year even if that comes at the expense of beating his former club when the New York Red Bulls visit Orlando City Stadium on Saturday (1 pm ET | UniMas, Twitter)
“I’m excited to play,” Kljestan told reporters on Tuesday. “I want to get our first win and even better if it can come against my former team. It will be fun to see the guys again. I spent a few good years there and have some really good relationships with those guys so you always want to win against your friends and your brothers. I want to win this game very badly.”
Kljestan, who was one of Orlando’s high-profile offseason signings, made his debut for the Lions on March 17 during a 2-0 loss at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC.
Orlando has started the season 0-2-1 and Kljestan admitted going up against the Red Bulls won’t be an easy task, praising former teammates Luis Robles and Bradley Wright-Phillips as difference makers for New York.
"They're very organized and have a very good style of play that they stick to and don't deviate from, so we should know what to expect coming in," Kljestan said. "A lot of pressure, a lot of turnovers, a lot of transition opportunities, so we've got to be good with the ball and be good at tracking back when we do turn over the ball, we want to be able to counter fast.
“And then some very good players. Luis Robles, one of the best keepers in the league, Bradley Wright-Phillips one of the best strikers in the league. So, at all times, we have to know where Bradley is, really not give him any chances because if he gets any chances he usually buries them.”
The Lions haven’t been at full strength since the start of the season. Captain Jonathan Spector is out after suffering concussion-like symptoms during the NYCFC game. Oriol Rosell, who’s been seeking to gain fitness and also recovering from a knee injury, won’t be available on Saturday, according to head coach Jason Kreis.
Young Designated PlayerJosue Colman, who returned from a quad injury two weeks ago, might see more action, but Saturday will officially mark the season debut for Dom Dwyer.
According to Kreis, both players might see limited playing time, but that will be a game-day decision.
While Orlando may see more attacking options, Kljestan thinks it’s still going to take time for a lethal relationship in the final third to develop.
“I’d love to connect for three goals on Saturday, but it’s probably going to be a little difficult,” Kljestan said. “We've got to get our relationship down and that’s going to take some time, but the most important thing is that hopefully by the end of the season, Dom and I are firing.”
As for Dwyer, he’s focus on helping Orlando record its first win of the season.
“I think it’s important for us to get a result,” said Dwyer. “It’s important for us to play well. If we do play well, the result should come.”