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Lion Links: 10/19/20

Orlando City clinches a playoff spot after a draw with the New York Red Bulls, Alex Morgan’s debut delayed, Wayne Rooney is livid, and more.

Orlando City SC v New York Red Bulls Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! First off, let’s give a big happy birthday to Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris! Now, on to what will go down as a great day in Orlando City history, despite the Lions not winning the match last night.

I am, of course, talking about Orlando City clinching a spot in the MLS playoffs for the very first time! If you didn’t know that happened until now, I’m really glad I used an exclamation point. If you did, then you probably still appreciated my punctuation. Enough with that, let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Best Draw Ever

Orlando City traveled to Red Bull Arena to take on the titular New York Red Bulls, riding an 11-match unbeaten streak and a possibility at clinching the playoffs. The Lions took the lead after Daryl Dike drew a penalty in the second half, and Nani stutter-stepped the kick past Ryan Meara. Unfortunately, the second half’s stoppage time ended up being six minutes, and the Red Bulls were able to equalize at the death. Regardless, Orlando City was able to extend its unbeaten streak to 12 matches.

Check back later today for the player grades and Man of the Match from Guilherme Torres, as well as the five takeaways from the match courtesy of Sean Rollins.

The Lions are Playoff Bound

Going into the match against the New York Red Bulls, Orlando City needed a better result than Atlanta United, which played against league-leading Toronto FC. That game started after Orlando’s, so once the Lions drew with the Red Bulls, attention turned to the other match. As if intending to make Orlando City fans wait another week, Toronto seemed to be on the way to a draw with Atlanta. That is until the 89th minute. Former Lion (forever a Lion) Richie Laryea drove into the right side of the area, and crossed the ball for Pablo Piatti to give Toronto the win and put Orlando City into the playoffs for the first time in the club’s MLS history.

Dike and the Lions are already looking ahead for more than just making the playoffs though. The 20-year-old had another strong performance and remains in talks for MLS Rookie of the Year, but Dike is hungry for more this year.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position,” Dike said. “Obviously we just made the playoffs today, but I think we’re going to carry on. The goal wasn’t just playoffs. We’re not done now. We just keep going and keep going. We want three points every single game and we want to finish the highest in the table. That’s the main goal.”

Morgan’s Debut Delayed

Those waiting for Alex Morgan’s debut with Tottenham Hotspur will have to continue waiting. That includes Morgan herself. Morgan joined Tottenham, but it looks like it will be a few more weeks until she will see any playing time.

There are no specifics on what the “small setback” is, but given she had started training with the team, it might be some sort of knock. Of course, no club is sharing any kind of injury information these days, so your guess is as good as mine. Tottenham could certainly use her help once she’s ready, considering Alanna Kennedy, Shelina Zadorsky, and the rest of the team were crushed 6-1 by Arsenal this weekend.

Rooney’s COVID-19 Scare

It’s not often that I’m on Wayne Rooney’s side, but this is an exception. England and the English Football Association have rules regarding exposure to COVID-19 and quarantine protocols if a player encounters a person that tested positive. Rooney had a friend visit, who didn’t get tested prior to the visit and subsequently tested positive, after Rooney played a match. Rooney will take a test to see if he has to take any further measures regarding the situation. Needless to say, Rooney is livid over the situation, and I can understand his position. I’m agreeing with Wayne Rooney. 2020 is so weird.

Free Kicks
  • You may have noticed that Ali Krieger wasn’t in the studio for Orlando City’s match. Well, she and Harris are still United States Women’s National Team players, and had to fly out to the USWNT camp for training today.
  • Things are getting a bit bitey in France’s Ligue 2. Valenciennes keeper Jerome Prior was apparently bit on the cheek in the 0-0 draw against Sochaux on Saturday.
  • If you somehow missed the end of the Toronto match, I’m going to let Orlando City legend Miguel Gallardo tell you all about it. Vamos Orlando!

That’s going to be it from me today, Mane Landers. Have a great Monday and celebrate responsibly!