What’s up, Mane Landers? Not only is today Friday, but it’s game day! Orlando City will take on Toronto FC in Canada tonight at 8 p.m. ET. The Lions will try to get back to their winning ways after falling to Atlanta last weekend. Whether you plan on enjoying the game out at a pub or in the comfort of your home, it should be a nice way to start your weekend off right. But first, here are some Lion Links to get you ready for tonight’s match and all caught up in Orlando soccer news.
Lions Not Taking Toronto FC Lightly
Despite Toronto FC forwards Jozy Altidore (foot surgery) and Sebastian Giovinco (suspension) being unavailable for tonight’s game, Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis isn’t doubting Toronto’s strength when the Lions take BMO Field. Instead of focusing on how Toronto has struggled so far this MLS season, Kreis is concentrating on how his team is performing and getting ready for a tough road game.
“From my prospective, all I see is a very difficult opponent,” Kreis said. “I don’t care if they are last or if they are on top of the standings. At the end, it doesn’t mean anything because when you start playing, you don’t think about what position they are. You just play as good as you can. It seems like a topic, but every game is difficult.”
Oriol Rosell Pleased With League’s Growth
The last time Oriol Rosell started an MLS game, Orlando City wasn’t even in the league yet. Now, the Spanish midfielder has returned to MLS after gallivanting around Europe and is happy to see MLS thrive and become more challenging.
“One of [the] reasons why I wanted to [come back] here was of because this, the league is growing. Each team can bring a lot of value to the league. I think the league is going to be even more competitive in a few years, and I would say that it’s the league to be [in].”
Rosell has been getting an uptick in minutes as he starts to overcome a knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for the first few matches this season. But Yoshimar Yotún’s suspension has opened a door for Rosell to get his first start since 2014.
Jason Kreis Praises Josué Colmán
Last week’s game against Atlanta United was Orlando City Designated Player Josué Colmán’s first appearance since April 21 against the San Jose Earthquakes. The 19-year-old midfielder was left off the team sheet two weeks ago but found the field again after responding “very well”, according to Kreis. Although the details of what locker room rule Colmán broke weren’t shared, Kreis believes the discipline handed out was necessary and Colmán has since worked incredibly hard at training to earn back his minutes.
Christine Nairn and Ashlyn Harris Sound Off on Pride Win
Orlando Pride midfielder Christine Nairn and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris had great performances in last weekend’s 2-1 road win against the Portland Thorns, winning NWSL Goal of the Week and Save of the Week, respectively. Despite her incredible strike, Nairn wants all the focus to be on the three points her team took back to Orlando.
On the other side of the ball, Harris is setting her sights beyond a nice stretch of games. Not discounting the Pride’s win in a tough environment against Portland, Harris believes these are games that the club should be winning as it seeks an NWSL title.
What a USMNT 2018 World Cup Team Could Look Like
The folks over at FourFourTwo have decided to put an imaginary United States Men’s National Team together based on a scenario where the U.S. actually made the 2018 FIFA World Cup. According to the article, if the team made the World Cup, we would have likely seen the usual suspects at goalkeeper, a young midfield, and a group of unimpressive forwards. Dom Dwyer gets a minor mention as a possible option for camp that could get hot and serve as one of the team’s attacking threats.
Upsets Abound in U.S. Open Cup Round Two
Although no MLS teams have taken the field yet in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, the tournament has still been competitive and fun to watch as amateur teams try to make a name for themselves across the country. The second round of the tournament was wild to say the least, with a whopping seven “cupsets” in the second round.
Two of those upsets came right here in Florida. The Jacksonville Armada defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1-0, and will face fellow National Premier Soccer League team Miami United FC in the third round after Miami United defeated Miami FC 2. Following the loss, the Tampa Bay Rowdies decided to part ways with Head Coach Stuart Campbell.
In other things you may have missed from the second round: Freddy Adu made an appearance for the Las Vegas Lights in their first U.S. Open Cup victory, Didier Drogba and Phoenix Rising lost in a penalty shootout to Sporting AZ FC, and former Orlando City B Head Coach Anthony Pulis led Saint Louis FC to a comfortable 2-0 win over Duluth FC. Next week is the third round and then a draw to determine the fourth round matches with MLS teams.
- Real Salt Lake rookie Corey Baird won MLS Goal of the Week for his diving header against D.C. United. Baird garnered 31% of the vote and should be a name to watch out for as the season progresses.
- The Orlando Seawolves have signed veteran goalkeeper Piotr Sliwa to be their man between the sticks. Central Florida soccer fans may be familiar with Sliwa, who has been the starting goalkeeper for the Florida Tropics in the U.S. National Arena Soccer League.
- Toronto FC Head Coach Greg Vanney says his team isn’t desperate, but admits that there is some urgency as Toronto still sits outside the playoff picture. Toronto’s road back to the playoffs starts tonight against Orlando, a game in which Toronto is preparing by fixing the little issues that have plagued it this season. Let’s hope Toronto’s resurgence is delayed another week.
- Another United Soccer League Division III founding member has been revealed, with Madison, WI becoming the first league member from the Midwest. Madison houses a strong soccer culture centered around the University of Wisconsin, which is where Orlando rookie sensation Chris Mueller developed his game.
- United States defender Cameron Carter-Vickers has inked a new deal that will keep him with Tottenham for a few more years.
- Despite Manchester City winning the English Premier League title in convincing fashion, Manchester United still earned more money.
- I’ll end our links with this picture of Brek Shea’s new hairstyle. Whiffing an open goal changes a man.
That’s all from me, Mane Landers. Check back later for more match coverage and make sure to party responsibly for tonight’s game. Vamos Orlando!