Hello, everyone. Hope you are all having a wonderful Wednesday. As you are reading this I am probably in the air, as I am traveling to Minnesota for the College Media Mega Workshop. Fun fact: I have never been out of the Eastern time zone, so this is a very new experience for me. Lots of news today, so let’s get straight to it.
Mohamed El-Munir Feels Confident In Versatile Role
Mohamed El-Munir has been a solid addition to the Lions since his first match in March. He has shown off his skills at left back but he has also been placed in the midfield in various lineups throughout the season. Against LAFC, El-Munir was subbed on for Chris Mueller in the 64th minute, which happened to be the first time the traditional left back was placed in an attacking position.
“I don’t see a big difference, you know?” El-Munir said. “Especially if I’m going to be on the left side. As a left back, I go more often into the attack. I’ve played in this position before. That’s what I don’t have a problem with it.”
El-Munir did play well after coming on for Mueller, constantly pressuring the LAFC defense and taking a shot on goal as well. This has to give some relief to new Head Coach James O’Connor in knowing that he has such a versatile player who is willing to play where he helps the team the best.
Defensive Depth Being Tested Yet Again
Orlando City saw some defensive players sidelined at training on Tuesday.
Orlando City training. Scott Sutter (adductor) is off to the side, but he’s here. No Lamine Sané (quad) or Jonathan Spector (hamstring). pic.twitter.com/T6v7sVWOrT— Jordan Culver (@JordanCulver) July 10, 2018
Sutter has missed a good chunk of the season with injury issues and Sané has been working himself back to 100%. Spector, who recently came back from his concussion injury, was out of training with a hamstring injury sustained early in the 4-1 loss to LAFC this past Saturday. Shane O’Neill will be available for selection for the first time in a Lions uniform against Toronto FC this weekend. The defense of Orlando City has struggled during this losing streak and with three quality defenders out of training, the struggles may continue. Sutter, Sané, and Spector are all regular starters, so seeing them come back to 100% would be a huge boost for a back line that could use some confidence. But the depth of the center backs will be tested while they are sidelined and time will tell how they handle the pressure.
Pride Begin Road Trip Tonight Against Dash
After a 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit just a short four days ago, the Pride will begin their two-game road trip tonight against the seventh-place Houston Dash. The Pride are currently riding a club-record six-game unbeaten streak away from Orlando City Stadium that began over two months ago. The Pride have a 4-0-2 road record over that span.
This match will be the first match that the Dash play at home in over two weeks after three straight road matches, including a 2-1 victory over the Pride on June 27. The two teams have each won a game against each other with this one being the rubber match between the two. After setting a club record with 31 shots in a single game, we will see if the Pride can continue their dominance away from home.
In other Pride news, Marta’s goal was voted as the NWSL Goal of the Week.
World Transfer News
Amid weeks of speculation, Real Madrid announced Tuesday that Ronaldo officially agreed to a transfer to Italian side Juventus. The club had this to say about his exit.
For Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of his great symbols and a unique reference for the next generations. Real Madrid will always be your home.
Ronaldo is arguably one of the best footballers to ever play — not only for Real Madrid, but overall. He is the leading scorer in the club’s history with 451 goals over 438 games. He helped lead the Spanish powerhouse to 16 titles over his tenure and picked up four golden balls and three golden boots for his individual achievements.
Along with Ronaldo, Riyad Mahrez officially inked his transfer from Leicester City to Manchester City, another move that has been teased for awhile. The 27-year-old signed for five years and moves to the Premier League champions after winning a title with Leicester City in 2016. Mahrez has 39 goals and 27 assists in 139 EPL appearances.
“Watching them from afar has been a pleasure. Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is a perfect for me, and City’s performances last season were outstanding. They’re redefining the English game and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Fernando Torres also moved away from his tenure with Atlético Madrid while also passing on an MLS move to go to Sagan Tosu of the J1 League in Japan. Torres had been teased to go to the Chicago Fire for awhile now but the deal obviously never came to fruition leading to Torres taking on the J1 League in likely the final step of his career. Torres has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career with Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool and AC Milan.
- Former Orlando City assistant coach C.J. Brown is now with the New York Red Bulls amidst coaching changes for the club.
- France and Belgium played the first of two World Cup semifinal matches with France coming out victorious after Samuel Umtiti’s header in the 51st minute. France awaits the winner of today’s match between England and Croatia.
- All 12 boys and their head coach from the Wild Boars soccer team in Thailand were safely rescued from the flooded cave that trapped them on June 23.
- Akil Watts’ signing with Real Club Deportivo Mallorca adds to the U-17 USMNT pro list.
Akil Watts' signing means that 16 of the 21 players on last year's U.S. U17 MNT have gone pro. Likely to be 17 with Blaine Ferri looking at options.— Travis Clark (@travismclark) July 10, 2018
Hope you guys enjoy your Wednesday and have a great rest of the week.