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Lion Links: 10/22/18

Orlando City finally wins, Meram doesn’t return, MLS Unified Special Olympics match, MLS postseason implications, and more!

MLS: Columbus Crew at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Miraculous, marvelous, magnificent, merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! Holy mackerel, Orlando City won a match! I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think it would happen the rest of this season.

Actually, I do know. I’ll type up the best Lion Links since July. Let’s get to it!

Orlando City Defeats the Crew

It was most certainly the best game that Orlando City has played in quite a while. I don’t know if it was that the Lions played for pride, or for the fans, or if James O’Connor finally finished whatever voodoo spell he has been concocting, but they were able to make some magic on Sunday by defeating the Columbus Crew, 2-1 in stoppage time.

The Crew struck first on an incredible free kick by Federico Higuaín, but Orlando City didn’t take long to get back into it with the first of two penalty kicks. Orlando actually played well throughout the game, except for Chris Mueller when he came in. That is until stoppage time, when he made a move in the box that resulted in a penalty. It would be the overconfident move that won the match. Well, once Sacha Kljestan buried the penalty to win the match that is. Regardless, let’s enjoy the feeling.

Your player grades and Man of the Match will come later today from our bearded guy, so keep an eye out for those to see how your favorite Lions did in the big win. Also, check back later today for the five takeaways of the match as seen by our very own Sean Rollins. With all this great content following a win, you’ll be feeling like Yoshi.

Meram Doesn’t Return

Former Orlando City winger Justin Meram did not come back to haunt the Lions on Sunday as there was apparently a gentleman’s agreement in place that he would not play when Columbus came to Orlando. This is something we discussed on the PawedCast a while back and that many people suspected but now there’s confirmation. Andrew Erickson of the Columbus Dispatch broke the news yesterday and ProSoccerUSA.com’s Jordan Culver confirmed it by talking to Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter after yesterday’s match.

“Part of the big picture is when we did this trade, much like an inter-league loan, where there’s language that you can’t play against the team you’re getting loaned from, us and Orlando agreed that when we played Orlando, [Meram] wouldn’t play. It was a gentlemen’s agreement, but we’ll stand by it. I think even though we could have used it today, we stood by the agreement and he didn’t play. He didn’t travel.”

MLS Unified Match

Following the Lions’ win, another team took the field. The MLS Unified squads for Orlando City and the Columbus Crew played a Special Olympics match following Orlando City’s win over the senior team. The youngsters in purple won big, defeating the opposition, 7-1.

Congratulations to both teams on a well played match. That being said, O’Connor wasn’t done with congratulating the Lions, as he addressed Orlando City’s unified team.

MLS Playoff Picture Takes Shape

By virtue of its win over the Columbus Crew, Orlando City will not finish last in MLS this year. Yay? Additionally, the win could have other playoff implications for teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s going to come down to the last weekend. Of course, there were other matches this weekend as well.

D.C. United secured a playoff spot with its 3-1 win over New York City FC. The Pigeons haven’t been great down the stretch, being the reverse image of a surging D.C. The New York Red Bulls stayed in the Supporters Shield hunt with a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union. In the Great White North, the Montreal Impact kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Toronto FC. Still, it was nice playing the potential spoiler on Sunday, wasn’t it?

English Premier League Recap

In case you forgot, there’s other soccer going on around the world, including in what many feel is the best league in the world: the English Premier League. That is of course debatable, but many (including myself) follow one team or another. Just as Yoshi was back with Orlando City, the EPL returned from its International break. Manchester City continued to be the class of the league with a 5-0 win over Burnley. Liverpool kept pace with a 1-0 win over Huddersfield, and Manchester United squeaked out a 3-2 win over Newcastle for Jose Mourinho.

Free Kicks
  • It turns out that many of you are in Orlando and care about the University of Central Florida. As such, you’ll be happy to hear that with the 3-0 win over Houston the women’s team has secured a place in the AAC Championship.
  • However, I’m in Tallahassee and I care about FSU Women’s Soccer. By the by, No. 16 FSU beat No. 4 Virginia in Charlottesville for the first time to help the Seminoles’ case in the ACC.
  • Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi has been banned by FIFA for 130 days so far for accepting $65,000 in bribes. Final judgment is coming for the corrupt official. Excuse me, allegedly corrupt official.
  • If you’re one of those soccer fans that plays the FIFA video games, you’ll be interested to know that someone has come up with five players that can potentially compete with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
  • Finally, in honor of James O’Connor’s voodoo magic, here’s a selection from Queen, Live at Wembley ‘86.

That’ll do it for today’s links. I hope you wore your purple today, as it’s been way too long since we could do that on a Monday and feel great about it. Go Lions!