Welcome to home match day number two! I don’t know about the rest of y’all Mane Landers, but this past week couldn’t have gone by any slower for me. It feels as if it’s already been weeks and weeks since the Lions hosted a team at Orlando City Stadium, and it even seems like a while since last Saturday’s draw against the Chicago Fire. Maybe I’m just getting better at compartmentalizing when Orlando City breaks my heart, who’s to say?
Anyway, let’s get to Friday’s news before the boys in purple have a chance to emotionally damage me some more.
Lions Loan Out Homegrown Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar
Either it’s simply my luck or Orlando City is not so great at keeping things under wraps, or perhaps a combination of both. Nevertheless, I have more news to bring you that we all saw coming. The Lions finally confirmed the loan of Homegrown Player, and fourth goalkeeper, Mason Stajduhar to the Tulsa Roughnecks of the United Soccer League’s Championship division for the remainder of the 2019 Major League Soccer season. Signed way back in 2015, Stajduhar has never seen any professional minutes, in part due to an unfortunate battle with Localized Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2017 and 2018 that the 21-year-old ultimately won. Hopefully, this will translate to meaningful game time for Stajduhar and perhaps see him return to the Lions ready to battle it out for the number one spot.
SeaWolves Dump Florida Tropics
The Orlando SeaWolves grabbed the lead in the Florida Indoor Derby last night with a 6-3 win over the Florida Tropics at Silver Spurs Arena. With one more home match-up against the Lakeland-based team remaining, the SeaWolves lead the season series, 3-2. Gordy Gurson and Osvaldo Rojas each netted a brace and former USL Lion Jonny Mendoza got a goal as well. Give it up for Tropics keeper Hugo Silva though, as he stood on his head to prevent Orlando from blowing the visitors back to Lakeland on the sheer force of goals. The SeaWolves are back in action tonight at home against the Kansas City Comets.
FIFA Makes One World Cup Decision and Delays Another to June
In somewhat normal FIFA fashion, Friday saw soccer’s governing body be both decisive and indecisive. The FIFA Council confirmed that video assistant referees (VAR) will be used throughout the 2019 Women’s World Cup this summer in France. When it comes to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA wasn’t quite ready to make a definitive choice to expand the competition. Gianni Infantino, current FIFA president, said that the expansion to 48 teams is “feasible,” though it will need to be given the go-ahead by the FIFA Congress this June. As of right now, the joint Canada, Mexico, and United States hosted 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature the 48-team format.
UEFA Champions League and Europa League Draws Are Made
After an intense and often unpredictable round of 16, the UEFA Champions League now has the eight teams that will fight it out in the quarterfinals for a chance to be one step closer to Europe’s ultimate glory. Four of the eight clubs are English Premier League sides and two will face each other — Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City — the latter of which is the odds-on favorite to win the competition. In a change back to the old format, this year’s quarterfinal draw also set up the bracket for the rest of the tournament.
The UEFA Europa League also drew its quarterfinal match-ups on Friday and the most interesting tie appeared to be that of Arsenal taking on Napoli, which currently sits second place in Italy’s Serie A behind only Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus. My Blues of Chelsea are up against Slavia Praha in what should be one of the easier battles, even considering the former’s performance to knock out La Liga’s Sevilla.
Orlando SeaWolves Players Visit Local Elementary School Before Last Night’s Match
As part of the club’s Anti-Bully Initiative with partners Mullinax Ford Kissimmee, players from the Orlando SeaWolves visited Mill Creek Elementary School Friday morning. Derek Huffman, Edwin Rojas, and Osvaldo Rojas handed out tickets for Saturday’s home match to a group of students.
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SeaWolves players Derek Huffman, Edwin Rojas, and Osvaldo Rojas had a great time this morning with the students from Mill Creek Elementary School as part of the SeaWolves & @mullinaxfordkiss Anti Bully Initiative. Students even received tickets to Saturday night's SeaWolves home game!
- Here’s a handy graphic of everything you need to know about today’s match versus the Montreal Impact. Make sure you grab the gameday poster featuring Nani while you’re at the stadium.
- Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer took to Twitter to congratulate Orlando Pride’s Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger on their engagement, while offering to officiate it as well.
- United States Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro issued this statement regarding the U.S. Women’s National Team lawsuit. Personally, I’m having a hard time dignifying the statement by mentioning it here.
- If he doesn’t end up with the rest of Orlando City’s leftovers at Inter Beckham FC, Jason Kreis could coach the U-23 U.S. Olympic team.
- Several former Orlando City players made headlines on Friday. Defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum from the USL days signed with his old coach Adrian Heath at Minnesota United. Scottish club Hibernian FC confirmed the signing of Jonathan Spector. Finally, Lewis Neal received his National A-Senior Coaching License from U.S. Soccer.
- Italian soccer legend Fabio Cannavaro is the new coach of China.
- ESPN released its annual World Fame 100 list, featuring three international soccer superstars in the top five.
- In non-soccer news, 49 people tragically lost their lives in a Christchurch, New Zealand mass shooting. Mayor Dyer expressed his condolences, as did Kiwi soccer star Abby Erceg. Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrid act and their families.
Now that I’ve bummed you out, get down to Church Street and the stadium to cheer yourself up by rooting for our Lions. Let’s all bring the noise and cheer the team on to its first three points of the season. Go City!