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Lion Links: 10/30/20

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Daryl Dike makes MLS Team of the Week, Orlando Pride waive three players, OCB releases a dozen Young Lions, and more.

SOCCER: MAY 11 NWSL - Portland Thorns FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? October is nearly over and then we just have two months to go until this year ends, so hang in there folks. I’m still reveling in Orlando City’s win over Atlanta earlier this week and am looking forward to even more soccer this weekend. Before we jump into today’s links, let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride and New Zealand defender Ali Riley!

Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller Earn Recognition

After a dominant performance in Orlando’s win, Dike was named as a starter on the MLS Team of the Week for the first time. The rookie had a goal and assist, but really shined in his hold-up play and tenacity both with and without the ball at his feet. Although he wasn’t able to edge out Chris Wondolowski for Player of the Week, Dike finished third in the voting with a nice share of support with fans.

Mueller didn’t make the Team of the Week, but he was nominated for Goal of the Week thanks to his goal right before halftime off of a free kick.

The curling strike gave Orlando some breathing room in the match and kept Mueller in the discussion for the Golden Boot with nine goals, although it would take a serious run of form in the last three games to overtake Diego Rossi’s 13.

Lions Build Momentum Before Postseason

Orlando’s win came at just the right time for the club, ending a rough four-game skid and winning the season series against Atlanta United. It was Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 112th win in MLS, tying him with Steve Nicol at ninth on the all-time list and just a win away from tying Ben Olsen.

The result also kept Orlando’s unbeaten home record intact and the Lions’ last two games of the season will be in Exploria Stadium. But before that, Orlando must travel to New Jersey to take on the Montreal Impact on Sunday. The last time the two sides met was in the MLS is Back Tournament when Orlando won 1-0 in the knockout round. The Lions will try to maintain momentum and stay near the top of the Eastern Conference standings while the Impact fight to claim one of the two playoff spots left.

Breaking Down Dike’s Goal

Orlando’s first goal against Atlanta was a team effort and former Lion Miguel Gallardo picked out the key moments in its buildup. From Nani’s positioning to Tesho Akindele’s run to peel a defender and open up space for Dike to spin and score, the goal showcased what’s made Orlando so lethal this season.

Orlando Pride Waive Three Players

Abby Elinsky, Julie King, and Morgan Reid were all waived by the Pride as the team makes changes before the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League Season. Defenders King and Reid were often injured and struggled to find a spot on the Pride’s back line. Elinsky played in all four of the team’s games during the Fall Series, starting in three of them, and had an assist on Sydney Leroux’s goal against the Houston Dash. All three waived players are available on the Re-Entry Wire, and expansion side Racing Louisville FC has first dibs to claim them.

Orlando City B Releases a Dozen Players

The USL League One season is over. After multiple positive tests for COVID-19 from Union Omaha, the USL League One final that was set to take place today is now cancelled. Greenville Triumph SC was declared champion after finishing the season more points per game than Omaha.

With the end of the season, OCB announced changes to its roster and released 12 players. Of those let go, the most notable are 2020 MLS SuperDraft picks Austin Aviza and Nicholas O’Callaghan, as well as Austin Amer, who played with OCB in both of the teams season’s in USL League One. As for the players who weren’t released, midfielder Raul Aguilera will begin training with the first team and others will join him in the future.

MLS Standings Format Shifts as Playoffs Near

In an MLS season unlike any other, all MLS teams won’t finish the season with the same amount of games played. Because of this, the final standings will be decided by points per game rather than total points. While this may not have an impact in the Eastern Conference as all teams are on pace to play all 23 games, it’s a big change to the Western Conference standings. This is largely due to the Colorado Rapids, who are now in a playoff position with only 15 games played while the Vancouver Whitecaps are on the outside looking in. The season will officially end on Decision Day on Nov. 8, with six postponed games now cancelled.

I personally would’ve liked to see a play-in game between the teams that wind up in eighth and ninth just to ensure the better team moves forward. What do you think? Did MLS get it right with this decision? Let me know in the comments below.

Free Kicks

That’s going to do it for me, folks. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!