What’s up, Mane Landers? Not only is it Friday, but it’s game day! I hope you guys are ready for Orlando City’s showdown with Atlanta United tonight at 8 p.m. ET for MLS Rivalry Week as the Lions look to claw their way back into the playoff race. But before we can start cheering on our boys in purple, we have to get through the last day of the work week and there’s no better way to start that day than with some links!
Tarek Called Up for Egyptian Qualifiers
Orlando City center back Amro Tarek has been called up for Egypt’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger on Sept. 8. Tarek was one of 13 foreign-based player selected by Egypt’s head coach, Javier Aguirre, who took over the team earlier this month. It’s nice to see Tarek seemingly a part of Aguirre’s plans, even if it means the Lions will be without him for their match with Sporting Kansas City on the same date. Congrats Amro!
Orlando Ready to Face Atlanta’s Offense
Orlando has allowed 57 goals while Atlanta has scored 53, both league highs. Head Coach James O’Connor has a tough test ahead of him with a porous defense that has conceded 10 goals in the past three games. He will have to find a way to hold off the best attack in the league but he will have home field advantage on his side. But even if O’Connor has a plan for stopping the Five Stripes, it is up to the players to execute it on the field tonight.
“For us, our process is the same. We break down the opposition, we say, ‘look, here’s where they attack, here’s some of the principles that they use,’ ” O’Connor said. “And then equally here’s some of the principles that we want to use when we’re attacking.”
Lions Aim to Keep Josef Martinez Quiet
While all of Atlanta’s offense is dangerous, most eyes will be on forward Josef Martinez as he is just one goal away from breaking the MLS scoring record. But the Lions are determined not to let that happen tonight at Orlando City Stadium. Yoshimar Yotún and Cristian Higuita will both be unavailable for the match, but newest defender Carlos Ascues may be the secret ingredient to holding off Martinez’s celebrations for another week.
Dom Dwyer Makes MLS Most Wanted
Rivalry Week brings out some of the best fan support of the year, with supporters not only cheering for their team but against the opposition. That fan hate is usually targeted at a few players who make opposing fans want to rip their hair out. Players like Bradley Wright-Phillips, Martinez, and Orlando’s own Dom Dwyer fit the bill. With an attacking style built around tricky runs and creating problems for defenses, Dwyer is both persistent and focused on breaking down back lines. Scoring in the past three games, he will hopefully be a thorn in Atlanta’s side all night long.
MLS Americans Moving to Europe Comes at a Price
Although the rise of MLS players heading to big clubs in Europe is a good testament to how the league’s academy system has grown, it does come at the cost of the league not personally seeing the fruits of its labors. Despite great improvement in preparing young players out of college in the game, many Americans are choosing the allure of playing in Europe instead of their home country. Regardless, I believe the good outweighs the bad as MLS makes more of a name for itself in the global scene.
- Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan has been named as Best Local Pro Athlete by Orlando Weekly, beating out Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic and Dom Dwyer.
- Although he is public enemy No. 1 here in Orlando, Martinez’s goal-scoring pace is still impressive. He is not only the MLS leader, but the club leader in all of the world in 2018, helped in large part by the European leagues just getting started.
- Real Salt Lake’s Albert Rusnak won MLS Goal of the Week for his stoppage time equalizer in a stunning 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.
Your MLS Goal of the Week pic.twitter.com/oiRsA1KhXg— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) August 23, 2018
- One of Toronto FC’s supporting groups has had its group status removed by the club after multiple violations and sanctions after an investigation by Ottawa police.
- U.S. Men’s National Team interim head coach Dave Sarachan believes that the U.S. should focus on its younger players, but has also stated there is a place for the USMNT’s veterans.
- The U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team will be participating in the Nordic Tournament where it will compete against Norway, Sweden, and England.
- New National Women’s Soccer League expansion teams may be coming from cities with a USL presence as opposed to those with an MLS one.
That’ll do it for today’s links, I hope you enjoy your Friday! Vamos Orlando!