Welcome back to reality, Mane Landers. The glory of a long weekend reminds us of a few important things with the passing of the Labor Day holiday: no more wearing white, fall is happening soon, and the final stretch of the MLS season is upon us. But, take heart! We have World Cup qualifying and a midweek game to keep us happy, so let's get to the links and get excited!
Up for It at Montreal
With the Lions back in action after a 10-day international break tomorrow against the Montreal Impact, one headache for Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis is who will start up front. Awkward talk here, but with Kevin Molino out for international duty in tonight's USA v. Trinidad and Tobago World Cup qualifier in Jacksonville, and Cyle Larin on the roster for Canada's match-up against El Salvador in Vancouver, there's a high probability that neither will be available for the club match. Whether or not last week's MLS injury report is to be believed, Didier Drogba may be out with a hamstring injury, but let's not put all our chips on this stroke of good luck. Either way, here's MLSSoccer.com's match preview and keep your eyes on The Manel Land when we'll post ours later today.
Some of the above paragraph sounds a bit negative, but there is some good news to report, as the Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday that defenders Rafael Ramos and Seb Hines are good to go for the Lions, and midfielder Carlos Rivas has sorted out the visa issues that kept him from traveling to Vancouver.
History in the Making
Late last week, in a friendly between France and Italy, history was made. FIFA officially relied on video replay technology to assist with referee calls during the match. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said "We've seen football history here. We're in 2016 so it's about time to try it." In reality, Orlando City pioneered history, when the technology was first tested during a live match back on Aug. 12. That night, video replay was involved in Orlando City B's match at New York Red Bulls II. Of course, with everything new, comes the dissenters who think the status quo is just fine, such as this concern from a former World Cup referee:
"If all decisions can be reviewed by video, referees on the pitch become nothing more than remote-controlled referees."
This comes on the heels of allegations that FA referees have been told to omit certain details from their match reports. Interesting.
Taking a Knee
U.S. Women's National Team's Megan Rapinoe joined Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee to take a stand during her club's Seattle Reign match against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday night. Rapinoe chose to join San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's silent but very visible protest against racism and commented on Twitter about her motivation in doing so:
It's the least I can do. Keep the conversation going. https://t.co/qwfHcqgV6J— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) September 5, 2016
Meanwhile, at camp in Jacksonville, USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard has said that he supports Kaepernick's protest but he will remain standing during the national anthem tonight.
Kosovo National Team Plays First Match
A little geopolitical history for you here, kids. Back in 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and has been fighting since then to assert its independence as a separate nation. Back in May of 2016, FIFA and UEFA officially recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state and granted them permission to have their own national team. Although this doesn't sound like a challenge, finding eligible players who are Kosovo nationals has involved a challenge of both FIFA's rules and international diplomacy. FIFA has very specific rules about players declaring their international status and once they have declared for a nation, it's very difficult to release them (think Christian Pulisic's 81st-minute debut, making him cap-tied to the USMNT back in March). So, it's been a big deal for Kosovo which is preparing for its first World Cup qualifying matches and has been working hard to qualify players. This week, two former Albanian nationals and a Norwegian were converted just in time for the team's first match. Congrats to Kosovo and here's to hoping they have success in their first-ever World Cup run!
- Old Trafford was used to promote the return of the Champions League despite Manchester United not being in this year's tournament.
- The Eighth Annual UEFA Benchmarking reports show that European football clubs are close to breaking even, with the European elite set to make over 100 Million euros in prize money.
Well, that it's for today. Make sure you keep it clicked to The Mane Land for coverage of today's USMNT World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago in Jacksonville, which will be covered by our own Gavin Ewbank.