But for defender RJ Allen, going back to New York – right next to where he was born and raised in New Jersey and where he played professionally for three seasons – will be an emotional one.
“This weekend is a big test, an emotional one for me, going back to New York,” Allen told MLSsoccer.com. “To have the opportunity to play against some old friends, which you never want to lose to your brothers or close friends. I have some good relationships on that team, and I’m looking forward to seeing them and battle it out between the lines.”
Allen was traded from NYCFC to Orlando last December and has appeared nine times with three starts so far for the Lions this season, including 76 minutes played in the first fixture between these teams, a 2-0 win by NYCFC in March. After previously playing under Jason Kreis in 2015 at NYCFC, Allen said he was a reason why he was interested in joining Orlando City ahead of the 2018 MLS season.
“He’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to this club,” said Allen. “It was a great opportunity at the time that was put on the table for me and as soon as I got that call, there was no hesitation because he’s a guy I really enjoy playing for and have a lot of respect for in this league.”
After setting a club record six-game winning streak, the Lions are riding a three-game losing streak – a loss on Saturday and that will set another club record of four consecutive losses.
Allen, however, is confident they will turn it around.
“I think all teams go through it throughout the year,” he said. “The successful teams are the ones that can dig deep and find a way to get out of it sooner rather than later.”
“We just keep working hard, put our head down this week and focus on New York [City FC] because they are a very good side and obviously with my experience there it's a really good match and I'm really looking forward to it."