Welcome to your daily edition of Lion Links! The international competitions, just like the summer heat, are rapidly heating up as the days seem to fly by. Every day is filled with thrilling back-to-back games with the Euros during the day and the Copa América games at night, what more could football fans ask for? More Orlando City, you say? Well, your thirst for some brilliant Orlando City football shall soon be quenched.
In the meantime, take a gander at some of these funny, incisive, and possibly horrifying links in preparation for a great weekend. But before we get started, a happy birthday is in order for The Original, Kevin Molino, who turns 25 today. Happy birthday, Kevin!
Orlando Expecting an Organized San Jose Team on Saturday
While San Jose will be without stalwart striker Chris Wondolowski, Orlando City will likely be without its captain, Kaká, as well. The Lions are expecting an organized setup from an Earthquakes team that has only surrendered 16 goals through 14 matches. The gravity of playing in front of what will be an emotional, unified audience with added media attention is also not lost on Head Coach Adrian Heath:
"Everybody understands how important the game is, for a variety of reasons, but no more so the fact that we've probably got the world's eyes on us this weekend," Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said.
"So, we've got to be ready for it, and I think we will. We all know that it's going to be a little bit different, a little bit stranger day because of the surrounding issues, but it's one that we're looking forward to."
USMNT Survives and Advances
If you went to bed early last night, you missed a great moment in U.S. sports history, as goals by Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes (off a Dempsey assist) led the USMNT to a 2-1 win over Ecuador in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals. The Americans didn't get through unscathed, as Jermaine Jones was sent off and both Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood picked up a second yellow in the tournament, meaning all three will miss the semifinal against the Argentina-Venezuela winner.
Silver(ware) and Gold
The ugly cousin of the Champions League seems to be finally getting a facelift as it seeks to attract a wider audience by enticing the participants with a little cold hard cash. The somewhat chaotic nature of the CONCACAF competitions has always been something that paled in comparison to those in Europe, but with the explosion of interest in the U.S., the CCL seems to be something that could interest a more global audience. Plus, Orlando City could be rolling in some serious piles of cash if the club made some serious progress in the competition.
A Deeper Look Inside Haiti
Though Haiti always faced an uphill battle when they were drawn into a group with the likes of Brazil -- no one knew at the time that they were going to be that bad, OK? -- the score lines during the competition certainly don't tell the whole story. Kristan Heneage, a fantastic journalist that hails from Durham, England, but has chosen to observe and work consistently within MLS and alternative narratives, gives us an inside look into a team of players that are just more than the whipping boys. Check out his fantastic work right here.
Stick With the Classics Next Time, Liverpool
In a well-intentioned gesture towards a man that the Reds hope will bring them tons of success in the coming years, Liverpool arranged for an...interesting cake to be made for their energetic German manager's birthday. Though I would and have often described Jürgen Klopp as animated, this seems to be taking that descriptor to a different level. Have a look for yourself, but warning, there's no unseeing this.
The Icemen are on Fire, Cristiano Ronaldo's Terrified! (to the tune of Will Grigg's on fire)
Following Portugal's disappointing draw with a hearty and fearless Icelandic team, Ronaldo had a few negative comments about the first time Euro-goers. The former world player of the year stated that since they celebrated their well-deserved point against a much greater and more historically successful Portugal side, they had a small nation mentality and would go on to do nothing in the tournament (I'm paraphrasing a bit concerning the first part). However, I'm not here to lead you to a link of more childlike comments from a grown man whose house is most likely made up entirely of mirrors. I'm here to lead you to a brilliant article that takes you through the journey of Iceland's footballing revolution, and why them being at the Euro's isn't just a fluke.
That's going to wrap up today's links for us here at The Mane Land, have a fantastic Friday!