ORLANDO, Fla. — This year's Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs schedule has been weird.
After winning the new best-of-three Round One series to open the playoffs, Orlando City is in the middle of an 18-day stretch between its final match against Nashville SC and its Eastern Conference Semifinal match against the Columbus Crew. Mix in a FIFA World Cup Qualifying window, and you have a very different-looking week for the Lions ahead of what is their biggest game of the season.
In that same fashion, Tuesday's training session out at the Orlando Health Training Ground at Osceola Heritage Park was a bit uncommon. It was a cool, windy, and wet fall day in Florida. Clouds covered any rays of sunshine that tried to poke through, mixing with some gusts of wind and spurts of rain.
It certainly didn't dampen the players' spirits, though.
A competitive session of rondos led into some stretching and light running drills right as a wave of rain started to pour down on the players. Most of the players just continued on as usual, working hard to keep up their level of training that's gotten them to this point in the season.
Even with over two weeks in between rounds, the Lions are focused on keeping their momentum up through this week, so they can have the same rhythm rolling into Nov. 25.
"I think what we have to do is in each and every training session, we have to approach it with a maximum focus to be able to maintain that rhythm," forward Martín Ojeda said before training. "I think that's fundamental. You have to approach every training session with the same intensity, keep the level up so that way we can maintain that rhythm."
For Ojeda and the rest of the team, it's been a key factor throughout the season, especially over the last two months.
Despite the weirdness of the playoff schedule, and the weirdness of the weather Tuesday morning, their high level and consistency in training has translated to their success on the pitch in games, and they want to make sure it stays that way.
"I think that's one of the things that makes us a great team is that we approach every training session like that," Ojeda said. "Obviously there's a bunch of space now between the last game that we played in and this next game, but that just allows us the ability to focus on each and every detail, focus on keeping our defense solidified and then focus on improving our finishing and converting those chances that we get in the next round. But we have to approach each and every training session with that same level of intensity."
Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoff vs Columbus Crew
Our Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoff tickets for our Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup against the Columbus Crew, presented by Publix, on Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET are live!
Don't miss Kickoff -60, airing one hour before Orlando City's match, exclusively on the LionNation App. Join host Gabrielle Amado and Orlando City’s English-language radio talents Evan Weston and Paul Shaw as they break down the upcoming match, with special guests appearing regularly throughout the season.
Fans can download the LionNation App at the link here.