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Lion Links: 5/3/20

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Moutinho is Orlando City’s rising star, Larin was one of MLS’ most efficient goal scorers, Nani’s technical skill, and more.

MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, everyone. The weirdest spring ever is still underway and although optimism reigns supreme with governors across the country starting to loosen some of the restrictions, it’s probably best that we take a very patient wait-and-see approach rather than get our hopes up for a return to how things were just a few months ago (has it really only been a few months?). We all want soccer back, but we might have to settle for watching it on TV for a while before we can start going to games again.

How are you coping? My latest activities include a full rewatch of the Marvel Comics Universe movies (I started yesterday with the original Iron Man) and trying to figure out a solution for our daughter’s day care. She previously attended before- and after-school care at her elementary school but that’s closed and my job has called us all back to the office starting a week from tomorrow. My wife’s office will also be ramping back up so it seems like it’s going to be tricky to figure out how our child will be supervised during weekdays.

But I can’t solve that right now because I’ve got to bring you the soccer news of the day.

Moutinho a Rising Star

Chris Smith of World Football Index picked a rising star from each team in the MLS Eastern Conference and making the grade for Orlando City was 22-year-old left back Joao Moutinho.

Moutinho is intelligent with his position and generally strong in the tackle. He could play a key role in Orlando finally ending their wait for a play-off spot.

Despite also boasting young talent like Benji Michel and Ruan, it’s hard to argue that Moutinho isn’t Orlando City’s best young, up-and-coming player with his high soccer IQ, ability to read the play, and excellent left foot.

Orlando City’s Larin Among Most Efficient MLS Goal Scorers

A lot of people forget just how good Canadian striker Cyle Larin was for Orlando City. That’s partly to do with the team’s poor showing in the standings and partially because of the acrimonious split between the player and the club, for which there was sufficient blame to place on Larin, his agent, Besiktas, and even Orlando City. Jonathan Sigal of MLSsoccer.com dove into the data, paying attention to players who scored at least 40 goals throughout their career, with their conversion rate expressed as goals/shots on goal. Sigal’s findings show (unsurprisingly) that Josef Martinez is the most efficient, with a 55.8% conversion rate. Larin is sixth on the list, with his 45.74% conversion rate across his three MLS seasons — surprisingly ahead of such players as Zlatan Ibrahimovic (45.61%) and Robbie Keane (43.92%). It’s a shame we never got to see Larin with a stronger MLS side behind him.

Nani Named One of Most Skilled MLS Players

Sticking with the theme of Orlando City players appearing on lists recently, Greg Seltzer of MLSSoccer.com named his top 12 current MLS players with the most pure skill. While not able to base such a column on data the way Sigal did with his most efficient scorers, Seltzer relied on the eye test to determine the most technically adept players in the league and it’s no surprise that Orlando captain Nani made the cut.

The Orlando City winger has long been known as one of the world’s fanciest technical players. From his beginnings at Sporting CP and Manchester United to later days in MLS, Nani has constantly dazzled with his dribbling, crossing and shooting skills. Then, the veteran put an exclamation point on his reputation with a buzzer-beating crossbar ding from midfield to win last year’s All-Star Game Skills Challenge.

Weird Graduation for Pride’s Konya Plummer

I can’t imagine what life is like for this year’s graduating seniors — high school or college. I have vivid and happy memories of walking the stadium to get both my high school diploma and college degree. That’s not the case for new Orlando Pride defender Konya Plummer. Her graduation from UCF is a virtual one and that’s as sad as it is strange, but at least she accomplished her goal. The NWSL rookie has yet to play a match for the Pride, but you have to be encouraged to see a player who was once called “young Marta,” even if she is a center back. Julia Poe of ProSoccerUSA.com talked to Plummer and you can read more about her soccer background, including how she slept with the ball her mom gave her.

Free Kicks
  • In the midst of recent controversy and accusations, presidential candidate Joe Biden vowed to hold U.S. Soccer accountable for equal treatment of the USWNT. (Please note that there is nothing political in the preceding sentence. The existence of controversy and accusations is not in dispute, regardless of your opinion.)
  • RSL General Manager Elliot Fall discussed what upcoming individual workouts in MLS might consist of.
  • Houston’s Christian Ramirez says that an MLS-Liga MX Super League would “take over the world.” I think it could, but only if player spending limits were removed. The reason the world’s best players are mainly in Europe is because that’s where the money is.
  • Those born on this date include former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir (1898), Bing Crosby (1903), boxing’s Sugar Ray Robinson (1921), James Brown (1933), Frankie Valli (1934), baseball’s Davey Lopes (1945), sportscaster Greg Gumbel (1946), Christopher Cross (1951), REO Speedwagon bassist Bruce Hall (1953), hockey’s Ron Hextall (1964), D.C. United manager Ben Olsen (1977), and Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins (1997).

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend and please be safe when integrating back into businesses that are reopening.