First two games of the season, and Orlando City (0-1-1, 1 point) hasn’t found a true difference maker yet.
But the inclusion of Sacha Kljestan heading into next weekend’s away game at New York City FC might prove vital for Orlando, says Jason Kreis.
“He’s an important player for us,” said Kreis after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota United. “If we compound the issue when we don’t have another number 10 that’s healthy with Josué Colman being injured, and so, for the last two weeks we’ve been playing players out of position to fill that spot and I feel like we’ve lacked just a little bit of quality.”
“Nothing to do with the effort, I think the guys’ effort has been fantastic. Tonight, for me, we just lacked a little bit of quality in the final third,” added Kreis.
Quality in the final third is what Orlando has been missing. The Lions had a super-sub performance from Stefano Pinho on week one, but his quality was short lived on Saturday after 28 minutes when he suffered an ankle injury and was substituted for Chris Mueller.
Kreis wasn’t the only person who said Kljestan’s presence for week 3 will be much needed. Orlando City captain Jonathan Spector chimed in as well.
“We’ve missed Sacha,” said Spector. “You know the guys have come in and we do not have a natural number 10, we have guys trying to fill those roles and they’ve done really well and worked incredibly hard. They are doing their best for the team but having a player like Sacha will improve the attacking threat. He’s a natural number 10, that’s his role. We will be glad to have him back.”
Kljestan is one of four starters that have been out of commission because of injury or suspension, the latter being Kljestan.
Kljestan was suspended for the first two games of the season after receiving a red card during last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs when he a member of the New York Red Bulls. He’ll be available for selection this upcoming Saturday when the Lions visit Yankee Stadium to take on NYCFC at 3:30 p.m.
Kljestan’s return will also benefit Justin Meram, who’s been the focal point of Orlando’s attack in the last two games, according to Kreis.
“I think Justin will probably be one of the happiest players on our squad to have Sacha added in there,” said Kreis. “I think all of our players will, in fact, because Sacha is a tremendous leader as well. What he brings just from a character point of view out there – been there, done that. From that point of view, he will be a massive addition for us. So we’re all looking forward to it, no doubt.”
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City)