Greetings, everyone, on this fine Wednesday! Our one-week layoff from Champions League is finished and I, for one, am happy that Paris Saint-Germain did not find its way through, as playing in a league where you have zero competition always bothers me. And I’m always glad to see Cristiano Ronaldo continue to move on.
But enough with that — we’ve got great news for the Pride and some other headlines as we continue to power through the week.
Pride Re-sign a Key Player
The wait is over for those of us wondering when Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni was going to sign Australian international Alanna Kennedy to a new contract. While terms weren't announced — never a surprise — hopefully it’s for at least two seasons, which isn't uncommon in the NWSL. There was a sense that a deal would get done, but with it being a very busy international year for Australia, there was some concern that Kennedy’s situation could play out in similar fashion to that of fellow Aussie Steph Catley who made her way out west to ease the stress on the season.
Kennedy earned a solid grade of 7.5 from The Mane Land in our 2017 season review series, scoring four goals (tied for third in the club) while adding one assist. Her 2,101 minutes played were second only to Ali Krieger for Orlando last season. She was also selected to the NWSL Team of the Month in September.
Lions Most Likely Still Shorthanded for a Few More Weeks
National writer Paul Tenorio of MLSSoccer.com has given us fans some updates on where Dom Dwyer, Uri Rosell, and Josué Colmán all sit with their injuries:
Colman, Dwyer and Rosell were all out training on the side on Tuesday, and Lions’ general manager Niki Budalic told MLSSoccer.com the team is “cautiously optimistic” Colman and Rosell will be ready for a return, “in a few weeks.” Budalic said both Colman (thigh contusion) and Rosell (undisclosed injury), who arrived late to preseason and could be working on his fitness, are expected to rejoin training soon.
Dwyer (quad) is expected to be out longer than both of his new teammates.
Chris Mueller and Cam Lindley played well in the season opener, which is good news for City as its stars continue to work through injuries and suspensions in the early season.
Orlando’s New LB Impresses in His First Match
I will raise my hand and be the first to tell you that I thought City’s newest left back, Mohamed El-Munir, had about as up-and-down of a first match as you could have. In the early going of the match, he often looked lost, which led to multiple attacks down D.C.’s right wing. But his relentless effort wasn't overlooked by anyone.
He settled into the second half and if it wasn't for his chase-down tackle late in the match — one of the top three plays of the match beyond the goal and Joe Bendik’s PK save — City doesn't draw as Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis put it.
Speaking specifically about El-Munir’s chase down of Mattocks, Kreis said, “When you look at the play that he had to sprint 60, 70 yards to make a defensive stop on their striker. … That, for me, was a game-changer.”
Peru Calls Up Yoshi Yotún for Upcoming FIFA Weekend
As Peru looks to prepare for its 2018 World Cup appearance, Yoshimar Yotún has been named to the side that will play two matches stateside during the March 23-27 FIFA international weekend. Peru will play Croatia in Miami on the March 23 and Iceland in New Jersey on the March 27, so the travel stress on Yoshi won't be too much.
Additionally — and thankfully — the Lions will be observing the FIFA window, so no matches are being played that weekend.
PC’s Red Card Will Not be Appealed by City
Saturday night, PC Giro was charged with violent conduct for his interaction with D.C. United’s Yamil Asad. Orlando City has opted not to challenge the decision on appeal.
This has been a hot topic inside the TML Slack channel and I have to say, I agree with the referee — PC had a closed hand, he swung his arm, and he connected with the face. The pull — because it doesn't make sense as a push with that twist — doesn't make it excusable. Not to mention, PC ended his season last year on a violent conduct sendoff and that plays into who the referee is keying on.
He’ll miss next week’s match against Minnesota United, but we haven't been able to find any more word on if this is only a one-match suspension.
Pinho Up for Goal of the Week and Bendik’s Save Called Out
- Vote here for Pinho to win MLS Goal of the Week.
- Bendik’s fantastic penalty kick save was among this week’s MLS “What a Save” clips.
- The MLS Power Rankings (via the official site of MLS, we’ll have ours later today) have City down two spots to No. 10, which I definitely think is harsh considering the lack of players and the comeback draw. Oh well. They mean nothing.
- In an effort to seem more unified, the 2026 bid committee has restructured with Sunil Gulati no longer being the committee chair.
- Alyssa Naeher is settling in as the USWNT’s No. 1 keeper. Sorry, Ashlyn Harris fans, but this is a good thing — selfishly — for the Pride. And honestly, good for the U.S.
- Former City goalkeeper Tally Hall is back protecting the club (albeit as a member of Orlando’s Police force).
- Davide Astori was confirmed to pass of natural causes. Life is short. Don’t have regrets.
- D.C. United has signed Jamaican international Dane Kelly to boost attacking depth.
- While it doesn't affect the national team and Justin Meram, FIFA continues to ban matches in Iraq.
That’s it! Have a great rest of the week, and here’s hoping for a 3-1 (yes, I’m calling my shot already) win against Minnesota United this weekend! And check out the sights and sounds from this past Saturday on your way out: