What’s up, Mane Landers? I hope you all are ready for the first weekend of the off-season. Even though the Lions will be off the field, there is still plenty to be excited about with the MLS playoffs heating up and plenty of soccer all over the world to keep us busy until 2019. But first, let’s kick off your Friday on the right foot with some links!
New Orlando City Training Complex to Open in Kissimmee
In surprising news, Orlando City announced that a new training complex is set to open in July 2019 in Osceola County. The announcement is unexpected to say the least considering Lake Nona was the rumored home for a training complex expected to rival the ones of other clubs in MLS. Instead it seems the club will be going with renovating the Osceola Heritage Park, which served as the spring training grounds for the Houston Astros.
The approximately 20-acre area will be set up to be the exclusive training ground for both the Lions and the Orlando Pride. The complex will feature four full-size grass fields, a film room, a lounge and dining area for players, and roughly 30,000 square feet of office space for staff. You can check out some of the early renderings released by the club.
James O’Connor Determined to Disprove Doubters
James O’Connor is well aware that his 2-12-3 record as head coach for the Lions is far from the future he, the OCSC front office, players, and supporters are expecting for this club. A lot will likely change this off-season, but O’Connor will remain at the helm of a team that needs an improvement both in performance and in attitude. Some don’t think that O’Connor can complete such an overhaul in just one off-season but he’s spoken to the front office and the players who will be staying with the team and the Lions are ready to prove the doubters wrong. This is what O’Connor had to say to fans whose faith may be lacking after 2018:
“I would ask for one more opportunity, to really be given an opportunity to show you what we will be like in preseason, what we will be like at the start of next year,” O’Connor said. “I would candidly tell you, you’re probably going to miss out on a fantastic and very, very special year.”
MLS Playoff Conference Semifinals are Set
Only eight teams remain in the MLS playoffs as the knockout round finished up last night. In the earlier game, it took penalty kicks to decide a winner in a tight match between D.C. United and the Columbus Crew. After 90 minutes, the score was level at 1-1 and both teams were able to score again in extra time to push the game into penalty kicks where the Crew held on to defeat Wayne Rooney and D.C. to move on to the next round.
Meanwhile in California, Real Salt Lake stunned LAFC with a 3-2 victory on the road. Real’s Damir Kreilach stole the show with a brace and a crane kick goal that would even make the karate kid jealous.
A deflected shot from Jefferson Savarino caused an own goal and that was all the difference for Real Salt Lake to make its way to the next stage and give LAFC an early exit.
The quarterfinals of the playoffs start this Sunday when the first legs of the round begin. The Columbus Crew are set to host the Supporters’ Shield winning New York Red Bulls while New York City FC will look to maintain momentum when Atlanta United heads to Yankee Stadium.
In the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake will hope to upset the best team in the conference when Sporting Kansas City comes to town. But the most exciting series will undoubtedly be the clash of rivals as the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers face off.
USL League One Schedule Format Unveiled
The competition format for the anticipated USL League One that will feature the return of Orlando City B has been revealed. The 28-game regular season will begin on March 29 and end by Oct. 13, with the playoffs consisting of four teams and starting on Oct. 17. Each of the 10 clubs will play eight other clubs three times and will have one club they play four times. More news is sure to follow in the time between now and the season starts so keep an eye out for when the full schedule will be released and who the 10th and final founding member will be.
Carson Pickett’s Resilience Leads to Australian Success
Born with a left arm that stops at the elbow, Carson Pickett has had to work harder than most to become a defender for the Orlando Pride and Brisbane Roar. The 25-year-old credits a strong support system and a “never say never” attitude, for why she refuses to back down from challenges. So despite her position as a defender, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the Roar were trailing late against the Perth Glory it was Pickett who was there to level the score and get a result.
- Orlando City Youth Soccer released a brand new website for you to check out where you can learn more about the academy system, the Little Lions program, and even check out upcoming tournaments.
- Both Christine Nairn and Dani Weatherholt played a full game to help the Melbourne Victory win 2-1 against Emily van Egmond and the Newcastle Jets in the W-League. Although she didn’t score or have an assist, Nairn did all the little things and led the team in touches, passes, tackles, and she created eight chances. The game also featured this incredible goal by Melina Ayres from way out.
- Voting is open for MLS Goal of the Year and Save of the Year. Although the Lions didn’t make the cut for a top save, Scott Sutter did land on the ballot for one of the best goals of the season
- Another young Chicago Fire defender is hanging up his cleats as 25-year-old Christian Dean announced he will be retiring after a season plagued with injuries.
- The United States opened the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship with a dominant 7-1 win over Puerto Rico. The U.S will need to finish at the top of its group to advance to the next stage and the Young Yanks will continue their campaign tomorrow night (6 p.m. ET) against the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Usain Bolt’s trial has ended with the Central Coast Mariners in Australia and the track superstar is leaving the team.
That’s all from me, I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a relaxing weekend.