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Lion Links: 7/28/18

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Several Lions face disciplinary action, Dome Torrent unhappy despite beating OCSC, Earnie Stewart reflects on his time in Philadelphia, and more.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers. I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend. I sure am. I’m looking forward to seeing a good friend’s band play their farewell show later this evening, as their drummer is moving to Michigan. It should be a good time, or at least a much better time than having to sit through yet another frustrating Orlando City performance.

Things just keep spiraling out of control for the Lions, but I’ll continue to shout from the rooftops that there’s still plenty of time to right the ship. I mean, the ship’s taking on water too...but that’s beside the point. Let’s just remain positive, folks.

Before you jump in, we here at The Mane Land want to wish the Orlando Pride’s Ali Krieger (34) and the Lions’ Pierre Da Silva (20) a very special happy birthday!

That said, here’s your Saturday serving of Lion Links. Bon appetite.

Several Lions Facing Disciplinary Action

Following last Saturday’s dramatic (to say the least) 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew, the MLS Disciplinary Committee has issued undisclosed fines to the Crew’s Zack Steffen, and City’s Joe Bendik and Uri Rosell for instigating and escalating a mass confrontation during the 94th minute of the Lions’ loss. Head Coach James O’Connor has been issued an official warning for the club’s violation of the League’s policy during the 2018 campaign and the club was fined for its second violation of that policy.

In addition, the same committee issued Orlando City midfielder Cristian Higuita an undisclosed fine for “simulation/embellishment” in the 64th minute of Thursday’s loss to New York City FC. There’s some controversy here, depending on which club you support, but have a gander at the video footage and decide on your own how you feel about the aforementioned disciplinary actions.

Personally? I feel the Lions have been shafted the entire season, and clearly frustrations are boiling over. Higuita clearly took contact in the box on the call in question, but I don’t think he did himself any favors by holding his face after clearly taking no contact to the face. Despite the theatrics, there was contact, and boy has the officiating in City matches been far more than inconsistent throughout the season. As for Uri and Joe, well, don’t do that guys...but I empathize. Once again: theatrics.

Pigeons’ Gaffer Not Happy After Win in Orlando

It’s a bit of salt in the wound, considering the Lions fell to the Pigeons at home, but New York City FC Head Coach Dome Torrent was not satisfied with his team’s performance following his side’s win in Orlando City Soccer Stadium. Apparently, the winning performance wasn’t even remotely close to the standard that Torrent has set for his players, and he was vastly dissatisfied with the match. It must be nice to be unhappy with your team that’s clearly in the playoff picture, a potential favorite to win the MLS Cup, that’s missing its best striker, and still take home three points from a road win. That’s not a frequency that’s been available to Orlando’s supporters — and to hear it from the rival side’s gaffer must certainly feel frustrating.

“I’m not happy tonight,” said the Spaniard postgame. “We were able to win, but I’m not happy with our performance because I can’t play that way. If you want to win MLS, even when [Orlando] play with 10 players [after Shane O’Neill’s ejection], we play bad, really bad. I say in the second half I don’t like to defend deep. I repeat a few times. But I don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s because we won 2-0 in the first half, I don’t know, but we have to improve, improve a lot. Believe me.”

USWNT Players had Concerns Over Jill Ellis Last Year

A report from Sports Illustrated has stated that players from the USWNT confronted then-federation president Sunil Gulati last year before the Tournament of Nations with concerns over Jill Ellis and the direction of the squad, fearing that complacency may have set in following the triumph during the 2015 World Cup final. The players, who haven’t been named, were apparently veterans, and were told that Ellis wouldn’t be going anywhere prior to next summer’s Women’s World Cup...in front of Ellis. It’s an interesting tidbit of news to leak out, especially during the tournament, but the players asked for changes in either Ellis’ leadership and communication methods, or for a new coach in general. Clearly, Ellis is still in charge. Hopefully things go well next summer.

Earnie Stewart Reflects

Stewart’s time as the sporting director of the Philadelphia Union will come to a close on Tuesday as he departs to become the USMNT’s new general manager. While there’s no doubt in the mind of most Union and MLS club supporters that Stewart performed admirably while with the Union, Stewart himself feels like he’s leaving behind an incomplete legacy.

“Building for the future is not something that happens in two and a half years. That takes a lot more time than it’s been,” he told the Inquirer and Daily News. “I wanted to be here for a longer time, because you can’t just build in two and a half years. You can build, but you’re not going to get the fruits from what you build.”

It’s an unfortunate truth for Stewart, but there is a silver lining for him: he might just see some familiar faces within the ranks of the USMNT in the future, perhaps even some from Philadelphia. Just recently, Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty represented the Stars and Stripes in the U-20 World Cup. Clearly, Stewart has an eye for talent and an aptitude for developing young talent.

“That means we went in the right direction,” Stewart said. “There’s a lot of talent coming behind that. Hopefully they hit some national teams and make a lot of minutes [played] within the Philadelphia Union, and ultimately win games.”

Let’s just hope his ambition and abilities translate to consistent and quality play from the USMNT moving forward. I have a good feeling, but I guess I’m playing the optimist here.

Free Kicks
  • Not only is it Ali Kreiger’s birthday, but she’s also just an excellent individual in general. I can’t wait to see her next career move, whether that be coaching, commentating, or anything else relating to the club and sport she’s dedicated her life to. Double cheers to you, Ali. We love you!

A post shared by Major League Soccer (@mls) on

  • Speaking of the World Cup, remember that Russian youngster that blew the minds of millions with his pacy runs, tenacious play, and eye for goal? Well, Aleksandr Golovin’s World Cup exploits have paid off, as he’s officially made the move to Ligue 1 side Monoco. Well deserved, Aleksandr. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next.
  • This is incredible to even think about...but the upcoming La Liga season will be the first time since the 1999-2000 season that Real Madrid will not have a Ballon d’Or winner within their ranks.

That’s just about all I’ve got for you today, folks. Remember to check back in periodically to stay up to date on all things Orlando City and Orlando Pride, and most importantly, enjoy the remainder of your weekend!