There is nothing better than realizing you're halfway through the week and about to cruise into a three-day weekend than also being rewarded with a mid-week match. Orlando City takes on the (whoda thought we'd ever say it) top team in the East, the Philadelphia Union, before heading up to Yankee Stadium on Sunday for the third game in nine days. So to honor this special week of non-stop soccer fun, let's dive head-first into some cool and refreshing links.
Game Day Excitement!
Today is game day in the City Beautiful, as Orlando City takes on the City of Brotherly Love at the Citrus Bowl (also refusing to call it CWS). Keep your eyes fixed on The Mane Land's game day thread to get you expertly prepared for tonight's match. Speaking of the match, Orlando City has announced that the club is celebrating Military Appreciation Day at tonight's game. The club is set to honor the 65th Infantry Regiment, which is comprised of native Puerto Ricans and is known as the "Boriqueneers," who were recently honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Orlando City Attendance Ranked Third from Top ... and Bottom.
Orlando City SC drew another phenomenal crowd to last Saturday's victory over the Montreal Impact with 34,081 in attendance. Out of all MLS, NWSL, NASL, and USL matches played in the past week, Orlando drew the third highest attendance behind the Sounders (41,028) and NYCFC (37,858). This is obviously great news for the club and we should all be celebrating, right? Not so much. The club also ranked third from the bottom in attendance for its Sunday evening Orlando City B match (31st out of 33 clubs) against the Rochester Rhinos with a mere 925 fans in attendance (we even won and Hadji Barry made USL Team of the Week!). Here's The Mane Land's write up in case you now feel guilty for not paying attention, or Austin David's story about OCB's new-found inertia. Interesting to note that an NWSL match, the Portland Thorns' victory over the Washington Spirit, made it into the top 10 with 15,823 spectators, slightly ahead of the Chicago Fire's home win over the Dynamo, at 15,363.
Believe in Bendik
Many mea cuplas have recently been written towards Joe Bendik. When he started out the season for Orlando City, replacing the beloved (and injured) Tally Hall, skepticism loomed large over his chances for success. However, with the insane save after insane save that Bendik has pulled off between the sticks, it's time to finally give him his due credit. Bendik has been nominated for MLS Save of the Week (again), and he needs your vote to get him past the semifinal round.
MLS: Where Player Careers Go to Die?
This weekend, NYCFC's most expensive designer paperweight, Andrea Pirlo, took to the airwaves to preemptively complain about MLS, almost in anticipation of yesterday's news that he was going to be left off the Italian Euro 2016 squad; although up until the night of the blunderous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls, it appears Pirlo still had hope for his chances. Newest Chelsea manager and Italian National Team Coach Antonio Conte said he spoke to Pirlo before the decision was announced and that "nothing was left to chance." However, he also said that both Pirlo and Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco were evaluated and left off the squad because they "chose to play in MLS" and are "pay[ing] the consequences." That may be true for Giovinco, who won the 2015 MLS MVP award, but for Pirlo, perhaps Conte just caught the "highlights" from Saturday's home match at Yankee Stadium and that was enough for him. Expect some fallout from these comments, especially where @TheSoccerDon is concerned.
Potpourri -- Like the Jeopardy category but not phrased in the form of a question
- USL's continued quest to take over the world with San Diego expansion
- If you love reading and you love soccer, this summer book list is for you
- The female factor in MLS supporters groups
- U.S. U-17s beat Malaysia to advance to AIFF Youth Cup final
- Seattle Reign's Kim Little named BBC Women's Footballer of the Year
- WoSo guru Stephanie Yang's awesome piece on the creation of the Afghanistan Women's National team
That's it from me, Mane Landers. Enjoy the excitement of a mid-week game and stick with the us for full coverage and insight from the match-up against the Philadelphia Union.