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The City of Orlando is working to make getting around as easy as possible during this exciting weekend. SunRail Sponsored by Orlando City SC and the Orlando Magic, SunRail will offer FREE limited service on Sunday, March 8 to provide a hassle-free way for fans to get Downtown.

© John Tlumacki The Revolution are 3-1-0 since Carles Gil returned to the starting lineup early this month.

During the MLS playoffs, teams have tried different approaches to stopping Revolution midfielder Carles Gil. The Montreal Impact went on the offensive, hoping Bojan Krkic would simply outplay Gil, and the ploy nearly worked before the Revolution rallied for a 2-1 win. The Philadelphia Union went after Gil, fouling him six times in a 2-0 Revolution victory on Tuesday.

How Orlando City SC defends against Gil could determine the outcome of the Eastern Conference semifinal at Exploria Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Gil has been a focus for foes since he joined the Revolution last season. Early on, Gil complained to referees (one reason why he was cautioned six times, despite committing only 15 fouls). Since then, Gil simply has been playing through the rough treatment. But one of the best ways to make defenders pay for overaggressiveness is to convert on dead-ball situations. And now Gil has some tall targets to shoot for.

Against the Union, Gil drew a foul, then lofted a free kick for 6-foot-4-inch Adam Buksa to head in for the opening goal, while 6-4 Henry Kessler acted as a decoy. Gustavo Bou and Teal Bunbury are also proven threats to finish on set pieces.

It adds up to the possibility of Gil being allowed more space to display his playmaking skills. Not that he needs much.

“If you look at any team in MLS, there’s always that one guy that kind of calms everything down in a way, and for us it’s Carles,” Revolution midfielder Matt Polster said on Friday. “If you can find him the ball as quickly as possible, he makes things happen.”

Gil spent much of the season watching the Revolution from afar, recovering from foot surgery in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Since Gil returned to the starting lineup early this month, the Revolution have compiled a 3-1-0 record.

“I knew the first few games would be difficult for me and that I wouldn’t be at my best,” Gil said. “But those games and the few training sessions I had served to get me ready for the games that matter most, which are the playoffs.”

Gil is thriving on the Revolution’s attacking tactics.

“I’ve said on other occasions that Adam gives us something we didn’t have last year,” Gil said. “He’s a totally different player from the players we match up against up top. He gives us a lot of options and he helps us a lot when we need him. We know that he wins almost all of the aerial duels. Now we need to look for him more in the air because we know he’s going to be there and there will be chances to score.”

Against the Union, coach Bruce Arena upped his league-best postseason win total to 34, and the result improved Arena’s mark to 28-0-3 when his team scores first in the playoffs.

Orlando City will present more of an offensive threat than the Union, who relied on counterattacking.

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“They’re certainly a different style than Philadelphia, and certainly very effective,” Arena said.

Former Revolution midfielder Oscar Pareja’s coaching has transformed Orlando City, which concluded its debut season in seventh place in 2015, then fell to eighth, then 10th, and finished the last two years in 11th place. The Lions rely on former Manchester United left winger Nani and Mauricio Pereyra in setup roles, supported by Oriol Rosell and Junior Urso in midfield, with Daryl Dike (eight goals) and Chris Mueller (7 goals) up front. Orlando City will be missing Brazilian right back Ruan and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, red-carded in a controversial win on penalty kicks over New York City FC on Nov. 21.

“We’re just super dynamic and you’re starting to see it,” Polster said. “It’s the perfect time to have that happen, obviously, so we’re just going to ride the wave and see what happens in Orlando. The boys are confident, I feel like everybody is confident right now to go down there and win.”

2020

Last week, before the NBA world headed off to Chicago for the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Orlando City Council voted to approve the sale of a plot of land to the Orlando Magic.

That land, located between the Amway Center (home of the Magic) and Exploria Stadium (home of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club) will become the site of the Magic’s new practice facility. The building will also house a community health center an orthopedic center. The Magic hope to have the facility ready in time for the 2021-22 NBA season.

When the Magic moved into the Amway Center in 2010, it was a state-of-the-art building. Not only is the Amway Center the home of the Magic for games, it’s the center of their entire basketball operation. The backside of the building is entirely dedicated to the Magic practice facility, including weight room, therapy and training space, and offices for the basketball staff.

The challenge with this setup is that there is little to no room to expand. For example, there is just one full court, as was seen during the Orlando Summer League, which ran from the building’s opening through 2017. In addition, there are two shorter courts, which run horizontally across the main court.

Magic CEO Alex Martins said the Magic and AdventHealth (who will run the community health center and orthopedic center) “will build a world-class practice and health facility”. Martins and Magic President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, have toured other facilities around the NBA to gain insights and ideas in what Orlando should be looking for in a new facility.

The new building is expected to include at least two full courts, and likely additional baskets for drills and shooting work. In addition, as NBA teams invest more in health and physical science, the new facility will have space for equipment related to those advances as well. That type of addition to a facility allows a team to keep all of it basketball training and medical rehabilitation all under one roof.

When Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, he commented that one reason was the Nets practice and training facility. Multiple players have commented that Brooklyn went all out when building the facility and regularly uses it as a recruitment tool in free agency. While facing a lengthy rehab from a torn Achilles’, Durant is able to work out and get treatment in the same building as his active teammates. In recent years, the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and others have upgraded their facilities.

NBA players desire simplicity when off the court. By keeping medical and practice facilities in the same building, it allows for them to go to one location. Where the Magic will build their new facility is right around the corner from the Amway Center, which allows players to commute to the same general vicinity as they do today.

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The Orlando Magic already have some built in advantages when it comes to recruiting players. Central Florida has beautiful weather year-round, there is no state income tax, plus there are major players in the entertainment business and a growing technology sector in the Orlando area.

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The Magic have used those benefits in the past to lure free agents like Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady. Adding a shiny new practice facility to the list, just as a banner crop of free agents hits the market, is something Orlando hopes can get it back in the superstar mix once again.

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