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Lion Links: 3/15/20

Orlando City players adjust to eerie new sports landscape, some leagues are still playing, Ronaldinho plays jail soccer, and more.


Happy Sunday, everyone. You may find it odd that I’m writing this column today but your usual Sunday author has departed from the TML staff. So you might be stuck with me for a while, although we have discussed limiting our Lion Links columns to weekdays only. We’ll keep you posted on that.

It’s a weird time for all of us, but we’ll get through this coronavirus-affected time together. We just need to have a dialogue about what is going on, how we’re all coping, and what you need from our site during this odd hiatus in our sports lives.

On Friday, I finally picked up a book I got for Christmas and plowed through the first 100 pages and then I pushed past the 250-page mark Saturday. It’s been a while since I had time to read like that between my TML duties, my real job, dad/husband/household stuff, etc., and it was kind of nice to cover so much ground for a change. I’ve also smashed through Hunters on Amazon Prime Video and The Outsider on HBO in recent days and found both enjoyable. What has replaced that sports gap in your life? It’s strange that now that I have time to take my family to various places, many of them are closed.

Before I dive into the news of the day, I want to wish a happy birthday to Orlando City midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. Magic Mo (let me just throw that out there as a nickname) turns 30 today and I can’t wait to see what he can do out there when games resume and Nani and Dom Dwyer are both available.

Lions Dealing with Odd Circumstances

Obviously, fans aren’t the only ones dealing with the sudden halt to normal sporting activities. Orlando City players Brian Rowe and Tesho Akindele weighed in on the unusual circumstances they find themselves in as there is a ban on team training and no word on when games might resume.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, in the league or in life, that has affected us as greatly as this,” said Rowe, who is playing in his eighth year in the league. “There isn’t really a manual or a rule book on how to deal with this.”

“It’s a really crazy feeling, obviously, because nobody has ever experienced that before,” Akindele said. “It’s a really weird feeling. Obviously we all wish we could be out there, but we understand the decision from the league and the union because it’s a public safety issue. But it’s a tough time.”

Indeed, life is strange at the moment. Hopefully we can return to normalcy soon.

Orlando Pride Players to Compete for W-League Title

Orlando Pride international stars Claire Emslie and Emily van Egmond starred last night for Melbourne City, helping their W-League club advance to the Grand Final with a 5-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers. Emslie opened the scoring and assisted on the second goal with a good cross for Kyah Simon to head home. A van Egmond cross was misplayed by goalkeeper Abby Smith and fell for Rebekah Stott to finish on the third Melbourne City goal and the team just rolled from there. Emslie and van Egmond will face Pride teammate Alanna Kennedy and her Sydney FC teammates in the Grand Final next weekend. Here’s a look at Emslie’s goal:

Not Everything is Shut Down

While most leagues around the world are shut down, there are some still playing — for now, anyway. Liga MX in Mexico and the A-League and W-League in Australia are among those still operating, while leagues in Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine all held matches yesterday. But that may not last much longer, as teams are starting to ask for measures to be taken in response to COVID-19.

Though Mexico has relatively few reported cases, making it seem somewhat OK for their leagues to continue playing, it’s important to keep in mind that the availability of tests, reporting standards, lack of data transmitted to the media, and willingness of citizens to get tested may all be skewing the numbers.

Ronaldinho’s Prison Team Dominates

Speaking of interesting times, Ronaldinho playing soccer in jail is one of the strangest stories of the year. We previously told you about the Brazilian’s arrest for inexplicably using a fake pass to sneak into Paraguay. The former Brazil star had a big day, reportedly, with five goals and six assists in a lopsided 11-2 affair.

Italian Football Could Face Strike if Players Rushed Back

Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus and Serie A was one of the first sports leagues — if not the very first — to be affected by the pandemic, starting with games without fans and then a full shutdown. Things have gotten so bad in that country that Catholic churches nationwide are holding virtual services in lieu of attending mass. Serie A players and club medical staffs are threatening to take action if the league pushes for normal training to resume too soon.

“Considering the serious evolution of the COVID-19 infection around the world, the emerging spread of contagion within football and its staff, Serie A medics express their strong concern about protecting the health of club employees should training and other group assemblies be resumed soon.

“Therefore, unanimously, the medics advise that we do not resume training until a clear improvement of the emergency situation.”

Medical personnel and players could strike if pushed to return sooner than they deem safe.

Free Kicks
  • As someone who has a normal grocery day approaching and [/does quick inventory] four remaining rolls of toilet paper in the house, I got a kick out of this sign.
  • Send Paul Shaw your training video after watching this tip:
  • Antonio Nocerino showing off his skills.
  • I always felt like Ole Gunnar Solskjær was probably a good dude. Now we have even more confirmation of that.
  • I can’t decide what’s better here — the goal or the celly.
  • In addition to Pereyra, those born on this date include former U.S. president Andrew Jackson (1767); American blues man Lightnin’ Hopkins (1912); football’s Norm Van Brocklin (1926); Ruth Bader Ginsberg (1933); Taxi star Judd Hirsch (1935); Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh (1940); Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love (1941); wrestling’s The Iron Sheik (1942); horror filmmaking legend David Cronenberg (1943); soul/funk icon Sly Stone (1943); baseball’s Bobby Bonds (1946); Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider (1955); baseball’s Mike Pagliarulo (1960); singers Terence Trent D’Arby, (1962), Bret Michaels (1962), Rockwell (1964), and Mark McGrath (1968), Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin (1972); actress Eva Longoria (1975); and France/Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba (1993).

That’s all my time for this morning. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, stay safe, and keep checking The Mane Land for updates. And let us know what you’re binge watching during this sports-less segment of our existence.