Good Friday morning, Orlando. Happy FIFA Election Day, where the result is sure to be legitimate and there was absolutely no foul play* in the lead up to the voting.
As we prepare for round two against Columbus tomorrow night at the Citrus Bowl, here is a fresh batch of Lion Links to kick off your Friday.
*Except there probably was because #FIFA.
Orlando City Won't Take U.S. Open Cup Lightly
As our man Sean Rollins explains over at the OCSC official website, some Major League Soccer clubs don't approach the U.S. Open Cup all that seriously unless they advance to the later rounds, opting to play young squad players in the early goings. This strategy opens teams up to potential upsets against lesser opponents. This will not be a strategy employed by Orlando City, according to manager Adrian Heath.
"We've got to get into that (the Champions League) and that's why the Open Cup this year will be incredibly important to us," Heath states. "I know all the directors at our football club talk about the same thing."
The winner of the U.S. Open Cup – America's oldest soccer tournament – is granted one of America's four places in the CONCACAF Champions League. City will begin play in the tourney on June 17 when it travels to face the Charleston Battery in the fourth round of the competition.
MLS All-Star Headed to Avaya Stadium
MLS on Wednesday announced that the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will take place at the brand new Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. The match will be broadcast live on the ESPN, Univision, TSN and RDS networks and will be available in more than 100 countries world wide.
"We are pleased to bring the AT&T MLS All-Star Game to San Jose and know that Avaya Stadium and the Earthquakes' passionate supporters will provide a vibrant and electric setting for this marquee event," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a statement.
San Jose last hosted an all-star game 14 years ago, and the city now features a state-of-the-art stadium that is a product of the surrounding Silicon Valley: It's the first cloud-enabled stadium in MLS and offers high quality Wi-Fi internet to fans. Despite these amenities, the Lions faced the Earthquakes last week at another brand new, state-of-the-art venue in Levi's Stadium.
MLS Insider: "Free Kick Artists"
If you've ever wondered what goes in to being a master of the free kick, then you're in luck today. The latest MLS Insider video features some of the league's best free kick takers, including Graham Zusi, Diego Valeri and Clint Dempsey, among others, who share some insight on their technique and execution. Pretty interesting way to kill eight minutes.
FIFA 16 to Include Women's Teams for First Time
If you're reading this site and you enjoy video games to any degree, there's a good chance you have played at least one game from EA Sports' award-winning FIFA series. Despite all of the game's success and innovation, the 2016 edition of FIFA will be the first to include women's teams.
FIFA 16, which will be released in September of this year, will allow players to use the U.S. Women's National Team in addition to women's national squads from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Sweden (12 in total). Four players from the USWNT – Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach – took part in a motion capture session during the game's development.
Blatter Not Responsible, Because of Course
Following the bomb dropped on FIFA by the U.S. Justice Department earlier this week, FIFA President Sepp Blatter spoke for the first time on Thursday saying that he's not responsible for the corruption. Naturally.
"I know many people hold me responsible. We, I, cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it," Blatter said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said Thursday that the United States will support Blatter's opposition, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, whom Gulati believes has a chance to unseat Blatter in today's election. How much of a chance does the Prince really stand? Who knows. That will be determined today, I suppose.
Have a good Friday, Lions!