Orlando City enters Saturday's round of 16 match against the Montreal Impact at the MLS is Back Tournament in a role that is unfamiliar to the Lions since joining the league in 2015.
They are the favorite.
Under first-year coach Oscar Pareja, Orlando (2-1-2, 8 points) went unbeaten during Group A play to take the top spot in the four-team round robin at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
Former Manchester United and Portugal star Nani has a goal and two assists during group play, and American Chris Mueller has three goals so far for a club that never has been to the MLS playoffs.
Orlando's victories over Miami and New York City FC were its first consecutive wins since a six-game winning streak early in the 2018 season.
And while the Lions did add some talent this offseason, most notably midfield playmaker Mauricio Pereyra, they're improving with much of the same talent from a largely disappointing 2019 campaign.
"I think that we have an identity as to how we're going to play on the field," Mueller said. "We believe we can win every game. It doesn't matter which team, and we always have this way of thinking when we're playing. That's why I think it's different."
Meanwhile, Montreal (2-2-1, 7 points) reached the last 16 in backdoor fashion, earning their first points in Group C with a 1-0 win over D.C. United in their final group game.
That, plus a minus-1 goal differential overall was enough to take one of the four wild-card spots in the elimination rounds for third-place group finishers.
Once upon a time, it was Montreal and not Orlando who got off to a hot start, going unbeaten in their first four matches in all competitions of 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic brought play to a halt in March.
Now, however, the Impact are leaning into the underdog role, despite quality offseason additions such as Honduras international Romell Quioto and a pair of former Tottenham Hotspur defenders in veteran Victor Wanyama and 18-year-old Luis Binks.
"I think the pressure is more on Orlando than us," said veteran defender Rod Fanni. "We have to be careful. ... But for me, I prefer this position because if we win, if something good happens for us, it's like a miracle. But for us no pressure."
--Field Level Media