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Lion Links: 2/16/20

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The Lions fall to D.C., Brian Rowe wants to start, Chicharito makes his MLS debut, and more.

Soccer: CONCACAF Nations League Soccer-USA at Canada Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. It’s week two of the Central Florida Soccer League spring season, and likely I’m off playing as you read. I managed an assist in our club’s 2-1 loss last week — my first match and full 90 minutes in about six or seven months (torn ligaments in an ankle) — so while it was nice seeing the pitch again, the result sure did leave a sour taste in my mouth. Hopefully today’s bout will go much better. Hopefully.

Regardless, let’s just hop into Sunday’s Links, shall we?

Orlando City Falls to D.C. United in Tampa

The University of South Florida, based in the Tampa area, played host to Orlando City SC and D.C. United yesterday in a closed-door preseason match. The next preseason match will take place on Tuesday at Exploria Stadium vs. KR Reykjavik. The match against D.C. United ended with a 1-0 loss for the Lions. Here’s the game’s only goal:

But the real story, unfortunately, was the potential season-ending injury to D.C.’s Paul Arriola. A torn ACL is suspected, and I just can’t help but feel downright awful if that’s the case. Sending positive energy your way, Paul.

Oscar Pareja spoke about the match afterwards.

Brian Rowe Still Wants to Start

Despite the major acquisition of Peru’s No. 1 Pedro Gallese, Brian Rowe, last year’s starter, is still battling Gallese for the starting duties and hoping to impress the club’s coaching staff. Rowe, a seasoned veteran of MLS play, simply sees his new competition as another challenge to overcome.

“Entering my ninth season in this league, I can wholeheartedly say that I want to play every single game,” Rowe said. “That’s just the competitiveness in me. Coming off of a year like last year where I felt very good, I want to still improve and and build on that.”

Personally, I love it. The competition will only serve as a catalyst for both players to step up their game. Competition is natural, and while they’re teammates, they’re still fighting for that honor. The job is obviously Gallese’s for the taking, but who knows, maybe Rowe will surprise us all (but I doubt it).

2020 Olympics: MLS Players Who Could Gain Notoriety

With the Summer Olympics quickly descending upon us, there will be countless MLS players who have everything to gain from a strong outing. Most notably, Orlando City’s and Canada’s Kamal Miller made the list. Miller, still only 22 years old, could gain some valuable experience during the tournament. Miller’s quite versatile, having the skills necessary to help on the back line, in the midfield, and apparently in Canada’s eyes, on the flanks in attack. The young Canuck has a lot to prove at both the club and international level, so we can only hope he steps up to the plate and delivers. Other Canadian MLSers who have much to gain include Theo Blair (Vancouver Whitecaps), Ballou Tabla (Montreal Impact), and Liam Frasier (Toronto FC). Meanwhile, the American MLSers named included Mason Toye (Minnesota United FC), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), and Derrick Jones (Nashville SC). Check the link for a few honorable mentions, too!

Chicharito Makes his Galaxy Debut

I hate to beat a dead horse, because that’s what covering Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s induction into MLS has felt like, but the Mexican striker made his first official appearance for the LA Galaxy yesterday against Toronto FC. The new striker wore the armband in this one, but failed to put one in the back of the net as the Galaxy fell to Toronto, 2-1. Cristian Pavón did score a nice goal for the Galaxy, but it wasn’t enough, as Ifunanyachi Achara and Alejando Pozuelo both netted for the Reds (despite the Galaxy’s graphic being incorrect) to down the Galaxy.

Free Kicks
  • I’m starting off our Free Kicks with this one because, well, Jozy makes one hell of a point.
  • The Reds...they just keep on marching. Yesterday, the inevitable Premier League champions beat Norwich, 1-0, bringing their season total of points to 76 of a possible 78. They’ve also already mathematically qualified for next year’s Champion’s League. You’ll Never Walk Alone! This outstanding save from Alisson speaks volumes about their season.
  • Meanwhile, Manchester City and their future is in major peril, and we could witness a max exodus this summer following their European ban. This will be a strange one with appeals and constant rumors and updates, so keep your ear close to the ground when it comes to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Pep Guardiola, and company.
  • In Spain, Eden Hazard is finally making his return to Real Madrid’s squad following his recovery from an ankle injury that’s held him out since November. Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, he can find his form and make an impact for the table-topping Madrid club.
  • In case anyone was wondering, NBA phenom and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is #TeamMadrid. ¡Hala Madrid!
  • Only one more on NBA players, I promise. Check out Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler with the tekkers before an NBA All-Star practice! Consider me impressed.
  • Just a reminder (not that you need one): GOAT.
  • And we’ll end with a spectacular showing of solidarity among some XFL fans. I mean, I’m beyond impressed with this dedication. The league isn’t looking too shabby itself, either. Hopefully it’ll stick around this time.

All right folks, that’s it from me for the day. Enjoy your Sunday and have an excellent week!