Hellooooooooo there, Lion Nation. I just got home from work, the Twizzlers are on my desk, Green Day's "Welcome to Paradise" was the first song to start playing on my iTunes account, and indeed, welcome to paradise. As the byline says above me, I'm Gavin Ewbank, pinch-hitting once again for Lion Links this morning.
Like a hot summer day at the beach in Florida, let's dive right into things on this fine Friday.
Orlando City Must Win On Saturday, Says Kaká
Riding into the weekend on a six-game winless streak, Orlando City's match against the Montreal Impact is one of the biggest challenges the club has faced yet this season, according to the Lions' captain.
"This is a tough period for us. We know it is a hard moment," Kaká insisted. "But this moment will determine the rest of the season. If we can come out of this situation stronger, probably we will make the playoffs.
"When we are confident on the field, everything just comes easy, so this is something we have to rebuild. It is not easy but I believe in these guys."
And he's not wrong. While the Lions have struggled to play well this season despite being one of the last two remaining undefeated teams in the league earlier in the year, a win against the second-place team in the Eastern Conference could be a big confidence boost heading into two very tough match-ups against Philadelphia and New York City.
We've Done It, You Guys!
Major League Soccer on Wednesday was named the Sports League of the Year at the 2016 Sports Business Awards, beating out five other prominent North American sports leagues -- the American Athletic Conference, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour. I still can't even believe the NFL wasn't nominated, though. I mean, c'mon, DeflateGate!?! They handled that like pros.
Apparently, Orlando City was also up for an award on the night, but lost out to the Players' Tribune, a sports publication founded by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, for Sports Breakthrough of the Year.
In addition to the league, the MLS Cup-winning Portland Timbers were nominated for Team of the Year, but lost out to the NBA's Golden State Warriors. The San Jose Earthquakes' Avaya Stadium was up for Sports Facility of the Year, which went to the Daytona International Speedway. And Orlando City were nominated for Sports Breakthrough of the Year, awarded to The Players' Tribune.
Congrats to everybody involved. After all, #WeAreOne.
More Like Nope A Cero, Amirite?
Responding to reports last week that U.S. Soccer and the Mexican Soccer Federation were discussing plans about a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup, USSF President Sunil Gulati completely ruled out the idea, saying:
"We haven't made a decision about the  World Cup. Until we know what the rules are of the bid process -- which won't be until October at the earliest -- we're not going to be making a decision," he said. "And we certainly haven't had any formal discussions with the Mexican federation at this point."
Anyway, I'll begin the process of deleting my account after that failed sub-header.
Craziness In the U.S. Open Cup
Following their big upset win over the Charleston Battery in the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, The Villages SC have been disqualified from the tournament for fielding an ineligible player. One of The Villages' players, Paulo Vaz, appeared for Boca Raton FC in a qualifying match last November, and even played in the club's previous Open Cup match against the Central Florida Kraze, who must have failed to notice and didn't protest the result.
Charleston, however, did and now they're back in the Cup and will face the Jacksonville Armada on June 1 with a fourth-round match-up against Orlando City on the line.
USL Keeps Rising
It was announced on Thursday that an investment group in Nashville has been awarded a USL franchise to begin play in the USSF's third division in 2018, becoming the 32nd team to join the league. As of now, the club currently has yet to choose a name or potential stadium site. There's still plenty of time to work that out, after all.
Around the Land
The MLS Players' Union released the list of salaries for the 2016 season on Thursday, including Orlando City's...Scott Crumbly broke down Orlando City's defensive numbers.. I gave my 10 thoughts on the Lions through their first 10 games...My boss, Michael Citro, went on the Black and Blue Soccer Podcast to chat about Saturday's match between Orlando City and the Montreal Impact.
The Football League wants to create a new division with 20 teams in each league to begin in 2019-2020...Mike Francesa doesn't know anything about the MLS clubs in New York...Native Americans are apparently not bothered by the Washington Redskins' name, despite what you might think...the NFL Pro Bowl is reportedly coming to Orlando next season.
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That's all I have for you guys today. Have a great Friday, folks.
Play me out, Justin!