Oscar Pareja has declared his Orlando City side ready for 'Playoff time'.
The Lions beat CF Montreal 2-0 on Decision Day to punch their ticket in the post season, with an away clash at Nashville set in the first round.
Sunday's result marked the end of a tough process to make the Playoffs for Orlando, who have failed to win back-to-back games since late June and missed multiple chances to clinch a top-seven spot.
Pareja believes the win in Montreal - delivered by a Jhegson Mendez wonder goal and Daryl Dike's 10th goal of the season - was 'retribution' for all the effort Orlando have put in to make the Playoffs a reality.
“It has been difficult with what just happened against Nashville. And this week, the boys forgot about it and then got through it,” Pareja told reporters (via MLSsoccer.com). “We understand that this is part of the game and this is part of our job. And today we were much focused on just playing the game and doing our job there on the field.
“It has been really emotional time for us this month, when we had opportunities to clinch at home and we couldn't – and playing well, and deserving much more, but we couldn't execute it. Today, I think it's a retribution from all that effort.”
Pareja went on to praise the character of his players to come through what was a far tighter clash than the scoreline suggested, with Montreal applying a lot of pressure and coming close to scoring on a few occasions.
“It is important to see the character of the players once they have these difficult events, as we had against Nashville with the officiating. Right now, the concentration is back,” he added.
“And the effort, the professionalism today from the boys, it just gives them that victory. It’s given us a good momentum to get into the playoffs. We will have time to prepare again. But it was really important today to keep our composure and our emotional part collectively stable, and we did it.”
Pareja is 'proud' of his players, but the focus now fully shifting to that away tie in Nashville, he's promised Orlando are ready and raring to go.
“With the game we played, I think it's playoff time for Orlando again,” said Pareja.
“We are proud of the club, of the effort, of the fans, and the way the club is going. But we knew that clinching to the playoffs is a very important step for us. And I want to give credit to these guys today. They were phenomenal, the boys are great. We're proud to coach them.”