Good morning, I hope #PurpleFriday finds you all well. With a match against the top team in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference on deck tonight, today is much more about mental preparation than it is about doing actual work.
Hopefully your boss was sympathetic enough to abide by Purple Friday rules and let you off early enough to hit 4 p.m. happy hour at Harry Buffalo, Elixir or Wall Street Plaza. If not, you'll have to chug a few after clocking out to catch up with the rest of Lion Nation. Also, find a new job.
To today's Lion Links...
Kaká Happy About Impending Arrival of Gerrard to MLS
As a former world class player still acclimating to MLS during his first year in America, Ricardo Kaká is well qualified to speak on the transition that Liverpool star Steven Gerrard will be making once the league's transfer window opens in July and he joins up with LA Galaxy. Although he may be qualified to speak on the subject, the Brazilian midfielder didn't have a whole lot of advice for Stevie G in a recent interview, other than just try to win.
"I'm not sure I'm in a position to give him some advice for the league, but it's very competitive, so he will need to be ready to be competitive with his new team," [Kaká] added.
Kaká said that being one of the foremost superstars in MLS is more motivation than pressure, and added that he is "so happy" to see a player the caliber of Gerrard joining the league this summer. Gerrard will be in SoCal soon enough, but for now he has to focus on the Guard of Honour that he and his Liverpool mates will have to endure this Sunday at Stamford Bridge. It's tradition, after all.
As we've covered previously this week, Brek Shea will be deployed on the left wing tonight following the season-ending injury sustained by Kevin Molino in last Saturday's friendly victory over Ponte Preta. This story from the official site of MLS provides a bit of insight into Shea's return to the midfield, including some quotes from the man who will supplant him at left back, Luke Boden.
"It was definitely a good experience playing behind Brek on Saturday," [Boden] insisted. "He just has so much pace and awareness in that position and, if I'm looking to play the ball out of defense, he gives you an instant out every time, as he is always available and he holds the ball up so well."
While it's unfortunate that Shea's move forward has come under the sad circumstances surrounding Molino, it will be interesting to watch Shea and Boden work on the left side against the Revs. Although it was only a friendly, Saturday's cameo in the attacking midfield provided a glimpse of what could be for Orlando, with Shea and company scoring three goals after his substitution.
ESPN FC Previews Orlando v. New England
The crew of ESPN FC looked ahead last night to Friday's MLS matches, which include Colorado Rapids against the San Jose Earthquakes after Orlando City's showdown with New England. Resident Scotsman Steve Nicol seems to think playing in Orlando on an early May night is equivalent to playing in Manaus in July, which could make things difficult for a team from New England. Spoiler alert: Other than the Florida heat advantage, the crew doesn't like OCSC much in this one.
Play Bingo with Orlando City
On June 6, OCSC will be hosting a bingo event that promises champagne, auctioning and "rousing" rounds of bingo, with prizes to boot. If that sounds like your sort of shindig, you can purchase tickets for the event here. Just be careful to monitor the amount of champagne you sip before you start throwing money around at an auction. Word to the wise.
Ramos Willing to Wait for Zelalem to Join U.S. U-20s
The United States Under-20 Men's National Team released its roster for this summer's World Cup on Thursday morning, but only 20 of the 21 slots were filled. With the U.S. still trying to provide FIFA the necessary documentation to get German-born Gedion Zelalem eligible, U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos is using that spot as a placeholder until the 18-year-old Arsenal youngster can join the squad.
Hopefully Zelalem is eligible to play for the Stars and Stripes by summertime. Also, here's to hoping he doesn't get too much expectation lumped on him too early, a la Julian Green.
Hopefully you all find your way to an Orlando City sanctioned pub this afternoon and enjoy several pints prior to the showdown with the Revs inside the Citrus Bowl. Here's to the weekend.