What’s up, Mane Landers? I’m still riding high from Orlando City’s big win at home earlier this week and hopefully you all are in good spirits as well. We have even more soccer this weekend with Orlando City B set to play tonight and the Lions and Orlando Pride in action tomorrow. It’s setting up to be a fun couple of days and let’s start them off right with some links!
Orlando is One of the Best American Soccer Cities
Orlando was named the second-best city in which to enjoy soccer in the United States in WalletHub’s annual ranking. It’s a high honor for the city, which finished in the top five for both MLS and NWSL rankings, and only Los Angeles finished with a higher score. WalletHub used over 50 metrics for its scoring and Orlando finished first in the most engaged fans in both MLS and the NWSL. Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back.
Akindele Thriving as a Lion
After proving to be the difference-maker with his goal against Sporting Kansas City, 27-year-old forward Tesho Akindele became the team’s leading scorer for 2019 with nine goals. It’s been the Canadian’s best year in MLS since being drafted by FC Dallas in 2014 and he has found a home in Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor’s system as not just a target man but a versatile attacker.
“He’s also got tremendous quality,” O’Connor continued. ”I think his finishing is underrated. I think he’s someone that is very capable of scoring goals whether he plays left of the front three, whether he plays central of the front three, I think he has an ability to score goals. I’m delighted for him because he’s a great young man. Credit to his family the way he handles himself and how hard he works.”
He will be important to Orlando’s playoff hopes as a tough stretch of games approaches and his teamwork with Dom Dwyer, who drew defenders to open up space for Akindele’s goal, should only get better over time.
Orlando City in the Thick of the Playoff Race
This is normally the time of year where Orlando City can comfortably be written off from making the playoffs after an abysmal summer. That isn’t the case this season, with the Lions earning more points in August than ever before and sitting right on the bubble in eighth place. The next five games, all against current playoff position teams, are going to make or break the team’s chances.
Emily Van Egmond’s Season Ends
After trying to fight through the pain for the past few weeks, Orlando Pride midfielder Emily van Egmond will undergo season-ending surgery for an ankle injury suffered during the World Cup. The Australian international lacked the usual bite to her aggressive play style when she returned to the Pride and it was the better move for all parties for her to get the surgery done rather than her playing with the injury until the season ended. She will return to Australia for the surgery and the Pride will have to look elsewhere on the roster to fill her absence in the midfield with nine games left this season.
- Speaking of Pride players returning to their home countries, Claire Emslie will head to Scotland after being called up for a Women’s Euro 2021 qualifier with Cyprus on Aug. 30. Emslie may have to step away from Orlando for international duty, but it looks like she has plans on what to stream on the plane.
Some very important Claire Emslie news: she told us today that she's staying out of the Florida heat in her free time by watching Gossip Girl for the first time. So far, her prediction is that Dan is Gossip Girl. I'll keep you updated on her progress/reactions. pic.twitter.com/R2t4lPFgQq— Julia Poe (@jpoe24601) August 15, 2019
- Former Pride player Lianne Sanderson had high praise for the Orlando Pride and the Orlando soccer community, saying her one regret in her career was leaving the organization.
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The only regret I have in my entire career was leaving this incredible franchise and place. Yes I went on to win a championship with The Flash but got injured and my entire career flipped upside down and I always knew if I was with Orlando they would have stood by me when I was injured and helped me. This played on my mind for a very long time, sometimes now but when I was injured especially. The fans still write to me as do some of the other teams I played for. But this is my only regret in football. So now people can stop asking me if I have any regrets and expecting me to say something to do with my national team or something. This is my one and only regret in football. Wishing everyone playing this beautiful game. Nothing but health, success and happiness. I will be signing for a team in The new year. For now my happiness is the only thing that matters to me and being in a supportive environment, where people want you to succeed and don’t feel threatened. #Goodvibesonly
- It looks like Orlando is line in to host the United States Men’s National Team in the Concacaf Nations League when it takes on Canada this November.
USSF finalizing venues for @CNationsLeague's #usmnt home matches: Audi Field in DC all but official for Cuba Oct 11 while Orlando appears to be front-runner for Canada Nov 15 (Team in Florida before away to Cuba 4 days later, though probably a neutral site in Central America)— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) August 16, 2019
- Orlando will also host the 2019 Major Arena Soccer League’s fall meetings, including the 2019 MASL Player Combine on Sept. 17. So, if you’re 18 or older and don’t mind travel, feel free to register to show the league what you’re made of.
- While the equal pay saga wears on, Alex Morgan’s assertion of “pay for play” gate keeping in youth soccer is worth discussion as well.
- It was Vancouver Whitecaps forward Theo Bair’s first goal in MLS, and his incredible volley was an easy choice for MLS Goal of the Week.
- Let’s follow one incredible goal with another. Let’s all try to take on the day with as much confidence as Anderson Diaz had when he scored this solo goal.
The Colombian Maradona? Anderson Diaz with the incredible solo goal pic.twitter.com/mFALa7hdaS— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 15, 2019
- For the first time since 2009, Lionel Messi won’t be in FC Barcelona’s La Liga opener due to a nagging calf injury. However, his road to recovery seems to be going well.
- Although FIFA President Gianni Infantino believes the past Women’s World Cup was the best ever, there is still plenty to be learned from it to improve in the future. Meanwhile UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is postponing any talks on changing the Champions League qualification process.
- We’ll end our links with these really cool customized cleats that Pride forward Sydney Leroux will be rocking, each giving a shout out to her kids.
That’ll be all from me, folks. We’ve got an exciting weekend ahead of us but first we just have to get through the final day of the work week. Have a great day!