United All Set For Orlando Test
Written by Newcastle Utd
As the second game of our Stateside tour approaches, we take a closer look at tonight's opponents, Orlando City
Alan Pardew's men face their second fixture of the US trip this evening, but despite being thousands of miles away from Tyneside, there'll be a familiar face in the home side's dugout.
Orlando City are managed by former Everton forward Adrian Heath, who also spent time at Sunderland in the 1990s as part of Peter Reid's back-room staff at the Stadium of Light.
And despite his connections to the Black Cats, Heath, who won two First Division titles during his spell as a player at Goodison Park, has described tonight's game as a fixture against 'one of the biggest clubs in the world'.
"We are three-quarters of the way through our season," he said, "and in terms of match fitness and sharpness, there will be no issues at all, and the lads are all looking forward giving Newcastle a strong test.
"We are looking forward to the game, and playing against one of the biggest clubs in the world in only our second year of existence is a major achievement."
Captain Fabricio Collocini was in optimistic spirits at the squad's morning training session as he looked ahead to tonight's game:
"We have fully adjusted to the heat now and we're all looking forward to our second game of the trip. Orlando City aren't in the MLS but we must never underestimate any team and I'm sure they'll test us.
"Training has been going very well and we've all improved our fitness levels over the last week since we arrived in the States.
"We're also looking forward to seeing a lot of Newcastle fans this evening, I hear the crowd is expected to be around 15,000 which is great."
Orlando City was founded just last year and play their home games at the Citrus Bowl - a 70,000 capacity stadium that was used as a venue for the FIFA World Cup back in 1994.
Among City's players is Leicester-born Lewis Neal, a midfielder who began his career at Stoke and had a spell with Carlisle United and Shrewsbury before moving to Florida in January this year.
Another Englishman in their ranks is Luke Boden, with the 22-year-old spending five years with his hometown club Sheffield Wednesday before his switch to the States - also in January.
The club play in the USL Professional Division and are currently top of the American division, nine points ahead of second-placed Richmond Kickers.