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Lion Links: 6/1/20

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Orlando players lend their voices, MLS’ potential return, the end of pay to play, and much more.

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Orlando Pride v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers and welcome to June. I won’t recap all that this year has thrown at us, but now we get to enjoy the start of hurricane season on top of the coronavirus and murder hornets. I wake up everyday feeling like this:

Obviously, the past few days have been troubling to say the least, and I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, a conversation needs to be had. While The Mane Land is not the place for that, we will cover any stories relating to Orlando City that address what is happening. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City and Pride Players Share their Voices

In reaction to the death of George Floyd, several players from both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride spoke out via social media. Growing up with a black father and white mother gave Pride forward Sydney Leroux a different perspective on race relations in the United States than her husband and Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer, who grew up in England. Dwyer’s experience wasn’t anything like his wife’s, and he had a bit of a shock when he came to the United States. The couple is dealing with raising two children in the current climate and is trying to do so with love and respect for their fellow human beings.

Pride midfielder Kristen Edmonds expressed the difficulty of leaving the safety of her home and dealing with an entirely different world outside her door. Orlando City defender Kamal Miller has been speaking out about racism since the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Pride defender Ali Krieger called the Minneapolis district attorney and mayor and urged fans to do the same.

MLS Return Updates

The idea that Major League Soccer would return to play in a tournament in Orlando has been kicked around, but nothing has been confirmed. As first reported by The Athletic, the MLS Players Association approved a plan to return to play on June 24. The players will fly into Orlando, train for two weeks, and then play a three-game group stage followed by knockout rounds. Those that don’t advance would fly home. One possible sticking point is that the Players Association required MLS to ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Given the time frame, one would expect details regarding the CBA, pay cuts, and the tournament in Orlando to be worked out in short order.

U.S. Pay to Play

For decades, youth soccer in America has been under more and more of the pay-to-play model. This has resulted in heavy fees for families to have their children play on the best teams against the best competition. Travel is extensive and costly. With the coronavirus pandemic, such teams and competitions have been a non-starter. U.S. Youth Soccer and MLS are partnering to address player identification and development, as well as coaching education. If they are able to address the pay to play issue, it might open up soccer to a larger portion of the youth in this country and eventually lead to the U.S. truly bringing out the best to the highest levels of play.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City and Pride players are not the only ones speaking out, as United States Men’s National Team player Weston McKennie wore an armband and took to Twitter to express his feelings on racism.
  • Lionel Messi addressed the state of soccer as the world slowly returns to normal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. La Liga is scheduled to return on June 11.
  • Here are the latest Bundesliga results from the weekend, with Borussia Dortmund still chasing Bayern Munich.
  • Brazil is trying to return to playing soccer and is under great pressure to do so. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has largely downplayed the virus and is pushing for the league to reopen. Some of the clubs in the league, like Fluminense and Botafogo, are opposed to the return.

That will do it for today, stay safe and be kind.