Happy Friday, Mane Landers. We did it. Our long (five days can be long) national nightmare is almost over and the weekend finally looms. And what a weekend it is! Orlando City visits New York City FC, the Orlando Pride visits FC Kansas City, OCB hosts Charlotte, and the USMNT will play Bolivia. The Lions play Sunday, while all three of the other matches happen tomorrow night, so you'll need to have multiple YouTube streams and a TV handy.
Oh, and there's this little tilt called the UEFA Champions League final between two Madrid teams that you may want to watch. Soccer celebrities, including our own Alex Morgan and Kaká, weighed in with their predictions for the match. Whose side are you on?
As for today, well, I can only help so much. The Lion Links below can help you avoid work for a chunk of your morning and that's about the best I can do for you. I mean, you could try telling your boss that I gave you the day off but there's a tiny chance that they might not recognize my authority. Good luck out there. Here is your Friday morning linkage:
Kaká Joins Brazil's Copa America Squad
There's good news and bad news. They're both the same news. Kaká has been called up by Brazil to replace Douglas Costa on Brazil's roster for the 2016 Copa America. One of those games for Brazil will be played right here in Orlando. That's great news for the captain but the bad news for City fans is that Kaká appears to be headed to join his national team ahead of Sunday's match-up with New York City FC in the Bronx. As if the Lions weren't shorthanded enough already.
Rainy Night in Stoke? More Like a Rainy Night in Melbourne
Orlando City will face EPL side Stoke City at Melbourne's Eastern Florida State College -- home of OCB -- in a friendly scheduled for Wednesday, July 27. Tickets for the match at Titan Soccer Complex are not part of the OCSC season ticket package but they can be procured here for the cost of just 15 American dollars. It'll be the first tangible evidence of the partnership between the two clubs that was announced just a few weeks ago.
"This is a great opportunity to provide our fans in Orlando and Melbourne with an international soccer experience this summer with some of the world's top athletes at Eastern Florida State College's Titan Soccer Complex, which is the playing home for Orlando City B," said Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins in a club press release. "This is one of the many benefits gained through our partnership."
With all the weather delays OCB fans -- and our own Sean Rollins -- have suffered through this season, it would only be appropriate if the match is played on a rainy Wednesday in Melbourne. The two sides met in July of 2012 in friendly competition with the EPL visitors winning, 1-0, at the Citrus Bowl. Orlando City's Luke Boden and Kevin Molino participated in that match. Here's a photo of the Lions' starting lineup that day:
Ah, those were such simpler times.
Sanderson's Trip to No. 10 Downing Street
We recently told you that Orlando Pride midfielder Lianne Sanderson was invited for a visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron. She took the trip prior to the Pride's match at Houston Dash last weekend and spoke to the Orlando Sentinel's Alicia DelGallo about the visit. Sanderson was the only current athlete invited to a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy event at the seat of the British government, although retired tennis star Martina Navratilova was also in attendance.
"It's the equivalent of meeting Barack Obama [in the United States]," Sanderson said. "It's essentially the same thing. The prime minister, no one ever really gets close to him. And the same as the queen. There's people I've met in my career, like [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi, people like that, but these are people you grow up watching on the TV, they run your country. So, it was a massive honor for me. It was a fantastic event and one I'll never forget.".
"(Cameron) said that he wants to do everything he can to push gay rights on and he's fully behind everything everyone's doing, and, 'Thank you for all the work you've done to help other people,'" Sanderson said. "It was fantastic. We've come such a long way, in England especially. Times are changing, and for me, if people can look up to me for being myself and just being me, that's the biggest honor I could ever have."
USWNT to Play South Africa in Sendoff Match
Alex Morgan and likely Ashlyn Harris will probably miss Orlando Pride's match against the Boston Breakers on July 10 because the USWNT has a sendoff friendly against South Africa on July 9 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The match, which is expected to be the first of two friendlies against South Africa in preparation for the Rio Olympics, will mark the first time the two countries will meet. From SB Nation's U.S. national team blog, Stars and Stripes FC:
The WNT has never played South Africa before; 54th-ranked Banyana Banyana are a team still on the rise under the stewardship of head coach Vera Pauw. They will also likely have some veteran leadership in the form of Janine Van Wyk and Portia Modise. South Africa is one of 12 teams qualified for the 2016 Olympics and will start their tournament in Group E with Brazil, China, and Sweden.
In other USWNT news, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution backing equal pay for the world champions. The resolution has no teeth but it's nice to know the Senate cares.
U.S. Open Cup: Kraze United Appeal Denied
Central Florida-based NPSL side Kraze United appealed their loss to The Villages SC, who used an ineligible player in U.S. Open Cup play, but that appeal was denied. It was the same player, Paulo Vaz, who played against the USL's Charleston Battery. The Battery successfully appealed their upset penalty shootout loss to The Villages and will square off against Jacksonville Armada. Kraze United's appeal failed because they did not file it in the allotted time per U.S. Open Cup rules. How does this affect Orlando fans? The Lions will face the winner of Charleston and Jacksonville in June. I still think Kraze and the Battery should play, so at least someone will advance by...you know...actually winning a match.
- A list of soccer podcasts for MLS fans (even if they got the full title of our Mane Land PawedCast wrong).
- Orlando City and Montreal Impact violated MLS mass confrontation policy and fines they are a'coming because this happened. I don't see the problem. Johan Venegas obviously has trouble standing up and we shouldn't stare or make fun of his disability.
- SB Nation MLS bloggers have selected Dax McCarty as MLS Player of the Week. I didn't have Dax on my ballot, although he played well. Cyle Larin and Joe Bendik got some play this week.
- Starting in 2017, the FA Cup will do away with replays in the quarterfinal stage, instead moving to a sudden-death format.
- ESPN FC reports that the long-awaited Jose Mourinho to Manchester United move will likely be completed by Friday.
- MLS All-Star Game voting is open for all your OCSC election needs. Vote purple! The MLS All-Stars will face Arsenal on July 28 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.
That's all I've got for you today. On a personal note, I'd like to thank Rich Shock, who served as an editor here at TML for about a year. Rich has a lot of exciting things going on in his world and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. We'll always have a home for you here, Rich. In addition, I'd like to welcome new TML staff writer Nick Morales, who we expect great things from. Nick's first effort for the site will drop later today.
Enjoy your Friday and check The Mane Land often for coverage of the Lions, Pride, OCB, USMNT, and more.