It's gameday in the nation's capital, and fans in the Sunshine State are sure to be watching tonight as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. In the meantime, enjoy today's Lion Links.
Sean St. Ledger on Life in MLS and in the United States
Fanbookz.com's Kristan Heneage recently caught up with Orlando City defender Sean St. Ledger regarding his new life here across the pond. After many years in England's second division, the Irish defender decided it was time to move stateside, and although some things have surely been difficult, he seems to have made the transition with ease.
St. Ledger has officially put to death the rumors that he is dating pop star Taylor Swift, which means, sadly, we will not see Swift at any Orlando City games in the near future. St. Ledger also shares what it is like playing alongside legendary midfielder Kaká:
"He’s good to watch and sometimes he’ll be practicing free-kicks after training and you can see why he’s played for the clubs he has. The thing I’d say most about him though is how humble he is and how down to earth he is. Everyone looks up to him. He’s won league titles, Champions Leagues and he’s still so humble".
St. Ledger acknowledges that the language barrier with some of his teammates is rough, and even the American ones give him a hard time about simple nuances. He is enjoying the atmosphere here, but he does not like our Special K. We won't hold that against him.
Orlando City Leads League in Passing
MLS is an ever-changing league with teams that play vastly different styles of soccer, but Orlando City have established themselves as a passing team. Now, anyone who watches the Lions play know Kaká plays a central role in that possession-based style. Here is an interesting graphic that shows the passes per possession of each team, in comparison to possessions per game:
MLS Passing/Tempo Style so far. Still early, but some seriously contrasting styles pic.twitter.com/CwXKfiF60B— Alex Olshansky (@tempofreesoccer) May 12, 2015
Another interesting note is that the leaders in passes per possession have the least amount of possessions in each game. This is mostly due to slower, more possessive style of play that has both helped and hurt Orlando City all season.
Rivera Makes Louisville City FC Debut
Orlando City rookie striker Sidney Rivera got his first 20 minutes of professional soccer last night. The striker, on loand to USL affiliate Louisville, was sent on at the 70-minute mark in last night's 3-0 LCFC thrashing of the Wilmington Hammerheads. Rivera was active, registering one shot on a chance shortly after being inserted, even though Louisville was in a lead-protection mode. Now that he seems to be over his injury issues, look for Rivera to get more time with Orlando's affiliate club.
Ruckus Supporting the Troops Through Auction
Orlando City supporter group "The Ruckus" will be hosting an auction dedicated to supporting Tally Hall's charity, Banded Brigade Outdoors, as well as Dogs 4 Warriors. The auction runs both online and at all Ruckus tailgates. $10 of every shirt sale for new Ruckus members will also be donated to the charities. Details for the event can be found here.
Bruce Arena Blasts MLS
Current LA Galaxy and former USMNT Coach Bruce Arena has called out Major League Soccer for its rules on discovery signings. He went as far to call it "blackmail" when the team tried to sign former US Youth International Sebastian Lletget. Lletget traveled with the team in preseason, but New England filed for discovery rights under MLS new collective bargaining agreement and LA was forced to pay $50,000 for the rights to the player.
While MLS has often been prone to criticism, one would think the golden child that is LA Galaxy would not have anything to complain about. No one is saying $50,000 is life or death but Arena argues that the discovery signing should only apply when a team actually wants to sign said player and in this case, New England did not.
Columbus Crew SC Releases Hernan Grana
Made official yesterday morning, 30-year old defender Hernan Grana and Crew SC have gone their separate ways. The move was brought about because Grana was homesick and missed his family and life in Argentina. His newborn son is also a continent away which makes the move more understandable.
Barcelona Loses in Munich, Advances to Final on Aggregate
While the hopes for Bayern Munich were bleak, it would not surprise anyone to know that the Bavarian giants put up quite the fight at home, as they won the second leg 3-2, but lost 5-3 on aggregate. For Barcelona, they will be playing for a chance at their fifth Champions League title. As for Bayern, the season ends with only a Bundesliga title, which, incredibly, is a disappointment for many fans.
Barcelona awaits the winner of Real Madrid and Juventus, with the Italians currently leading 2-1 on aggregate. The teams face of in Madrid today at 2:45pm EST.
That is it for today's Lion Links, we hope you join us in our match thread for tonight's tilt as the Lions look for three points against D.C. United. Have a great day!