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Lion Links: 11/19/20

Orlando City players recognized among league’s best, Orlando Pride players in action abroad, NWSL announces format for 2021, and more.

SOCCER: OCT 28 MLS - Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Thursday, Lionesses and Lions. As ever, I hope you overcame your hump day with ease. Orlando City has its first ever MLS playoff match in just two days’ time. The home fixture vs. New York City FC is a gigantic game for the Lions and a win would be incredible — far more so than a regular win.

Today is a special day for Orlando City. It was on this date in 2013 that OCSC was announced as Major League Soccer’s 21st franchise. Seven years later, we’re preparing for a postseason appearance.

While the playoff bout is at the forefront of most of our minds, there was also a good deal of news that occurred. So, on that note, let’s get into the links.

Orlando City Players Recognized

Steve Zakuani named his five best players in each position in MLS this season and three Orlando City players received a mention. Pedro Gallese in goal, Ruan at right back and Nani at left wing were those Zakuani shouted out.

All the City players picked deserve the mentions, but in my opinion it was really harsh not to give a spot to Chris Mueller, Mauricio Pereyra or João Moutinho. Furthermore, one could easily argue that the ever-talented, young striker Daryl Dike could have been in with a shout. And finally, Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos who have both been rock solid in the back were quite hard done by in my eyes.

Orlando Pride Players in Conti Cup Action

Several Pride players had noteworthy Continental League Cup appearances yesterday while on loan. Emily van Egmond once again scored for West Ham United in the Hammers’ 4-0 win over Charlton Athletic. It was her fourth goal in five matches. West Ham finished group play at the top of Group D.

Things didn’t go as well for Tottenham, which trailed Arsenal 2-1 late, but Pride defender Shelina Zadorsky scored her first goal for Spurs in the 88th minute to tie things up. The 2-2 draw was Tottenham’s first point ever against Arsenal but it could have been more. Alex Morgan was sent through in stoppage time but saw her shot attempt saved. Morgan then missed the fifth and decisive spot kick over the bar, handing Arsenal an extra point in the group.

Claire Emslie was not in the match day squad for Everton, which had only five players on the bench. But the Toffees still knocked rival Liverpool out of the competition with a 1-0 win in the Merseyside Derby.

Diego Rossi Tests Positive for COVID-19

Along with four other players for Uruguay, LAFC striker Diego Rossi has tested positive for COVID-19. The forward will miss out on his side’s playoff game against the Seattle Sounders and that is a massive blow for Bob Bradley’s men.

“Rossi is the third LAFC player to test positive while on international duty in South America in the last week. Defender Diego Palacios and midfielder José Cifuentes tested positive while with Ecuador and are also expected to miss the first playoff game while in isolation.”

The MLS top scorer and his teammates testing positive begs the question: why on earth are international breaks still occurring during a worldwide pandemic?

NWSL Announces New Competition Framework for 2021

The NWSL announced changes to the league’s format for next season. The NWSL Challenge Cup will return in 2021 in mid-April before the regular season gets underway in mid-May. So the Orlando Pride may yet make their Challenge Cup debut.

Based on guidance from the NWSL Medical Taskforce and public health authorities, the 2021 Challenge Cup will take place in multiple bubble environments, team markets, or some combination of the two.

With Racing Louisville entering the fray, each team will play 24 regular-season matches and the league is increasing the playoff field next season, with six teams making the postseason. The top two sides in the regular season will receive first-round playoff byes.

Free Kicks
  • The Orlando City Twitter admins were feeling a bit nostalgic yesterday while thinking of the upcoming match against NYCFC. Let’s hope the Lions feed on the Pigeons again!

That’ll do, pig. That’s all for this Thursday’s set of links. Thanks for tagging along, I’ll catch you on the flip side.