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Lion Links: 10/28/18

Lions close their season against the Red Bulls, Landon Donovan sees a future between MLS and Liga MX, Wayne Rooney’s off-season plans, and much more.

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MLS: Seattle Sounders at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Howdy, Mane Landers. This is a special edition of your daily serving of Lion Links, as it marks the finale of the 2018 season. The Lions travel up to the Big Apple to take on the New York Red Bulls as they prepare for their journey into the MLS playoffs. Hats off to them.

Meanwhile, the Lions have a lot of work cut out for them after this final 90 minutes of play, and something tells me Head Coach James O’Connor will get right on it — he’s got one hell of an off-season ahead of him. Regardless, at least we all get to enjoy (or dreadfully mull through) one final match with our boys in purple. I’ll do my best to keep you occupied until that match kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Let’s do this.

Orlando City and James O’Connor Look to End on High Note

There’s no secret that the Lions have experienced an abysmal season. With everyone ready to finish the season and begin the next wave of rebuilding of what should have been a playoff-bound side, the Lions are still looking to claim a positive result from their final match. When asked about his initial ambitious intention of turning the season around and clinching the club’s first-ever MLS playoff berth,O’Connor realized that he may have been asking too much in too little time.

“I think, since we’ve come in, we’ve wanted to look,” O’Connor said. “We feel as if we’ve looked, but I think the season, from our aspect of when we come in midseason, we have high, high expectations of ourselves so we’re obviously disappointed with the way the season has petered out. I think, as a club, obviously we want to make sure that we get the success that we all want. It’s been very intentional about following a process, following a plan, and then making sure that you execute it.”

When asked if he’d take any time away from the club after the season closes, he cited how much work needs to be accomplished to prepare for the the 2019 campaign.

“I think you have to ask questions of yourself. I think you have to ask questions of individuals. And then, I think, you have to create a plan, make sure that there’s a process to the plan and then carry it out.”

Let’s just all hope O’Connor comes up with a winning plan, so that next year at this time we’ll all be celebrating the Lions as they head into the MLS playoffs.

Landon Donovan, MLS, and Liga MX

American footy legend Landon Donovan believes that it’s only logical to have more collaboration between what he labels as the top two leagues in North America. Speaking to ESPN Deportes. the MLS all-time goal scoring and assist leader stated that it would be a wise decision to have more matches between the league, as it would allow the leagues to better compete with their European and South American counterparts.

“For me it is logical, because they’re the best leagues in this part of the world, they have the biggest players, if we want get better compete with Europe and parts of South America, I think it’s important,”

He even went so far as to hypothesize that a league that featured clubs from both MLS and Liga MX would be beneficial to the sport in both countries. With collaboration already underway in the form of the Campeones Cup, a final that pits the winner of each league against each other, further collaboration both on and off the field is possible. With the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, who knows what’s possible?

Catch All of the Final MLS Match Day Action

With the 2018 MLS regular season coming to a close, you may be wondering how you can stay tuned in to all of the matches. With some pivotal clashes and interesting match-ups, frontrowsoccer.com has provided a brief guide to keeping you up to date as today’s matches play out. There are still two playoff spots up for grabs, so be sure to keep a keen eye on the results and the implications of who makes their way in to the 2018 MLS playoffs, and who doesn’t.

D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney: No Loan or International Duty in the Future

With Rooney coming into D.C. United’s squad in the middle of what looked to be a down year, the club has turned it around and the English legend has had a lot to do with it. He’s netted 12 goals and contributed 9 assists through only 19 league appearances, and his side now sits in a strong position to gain a home match in the MLS playoffs. When asked about the possibility of returning home to England during the off-season to play on loan with another club, Rooney didn’t see it happening, nor does he see a return to the English national team in his future.

“I think [England] are doing fantastic,” he said of the Three Lions, who reached the World Cup semifinals in Russia over the summer. “It was the right time for me to retire with the group of young players. It was the right time to let them come in and flourish in the team. I have no regrets over it.”

In regards to his club’s playoffs hopes, Rooney isn’t taking the chance to play a home match lightly.

“We could feel the playoffs were getting closer and we need to try to kick on,” said Rooney. “We could finish fourth and could get a home tie in the first round of the playoffs, which could be a difference for us.”

Free Kicks
  • What were you up to last night? Orlando Pride/USWNT striker Alex Morgan went to the World Series.
  • Alphonso Davies has a lot of support coming from his former MLS teammates and competitors. We all hope you succeed in your German adventure, Alphonso! Heck, I’ll be in Munich pretty soon, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to meet you! The program I’m traveling with got to meet Christian Pulisic during their last trip.
  • My alma mater, Florida State University, and its football team is having a rough year. So rough that ardent fans, in this case a professor, have been spotted in the stands reading instead of cheering on their Noles. Yesterday’s demoralizing 59-10 loss to ACC rival Clemson was embarrassing. I’m not sure there’s much else to say about that...except that I’m surprised that we haven’t seen any OCSC supporters do the exact same thing.
  • With no Lionel Messi and no Cristiano Ronaldo, this morning’s edition of the famous El Clásico between Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona will surely feel quite different than previous iterations. Who will step up and lead their side to glory?
  • FIFA’s potential change to the Club World Cup are on hold for now, as the proposed changes have many questioning where the money is coming from and concern over the additional matches that the change would create.
  • Iago Aspas spent the night in a hospital welcoming his daughter to the world...he then went on to net a fine hat trick against Eibar, as his Celta Vigo side won 4-0. He’ll be telling his daughter about this night story forever, I imagine, and surely played inspired due to the occasion.

Well, that’s all I’ve got on tap for you today, folks. Enjoy today’s Decision Day clash with New York, even though there’s not much on the line for the Lions aside from the pride of closing the season with a win. Have a great week and let the 2019 speculation begin.