Happy Thursday, Lionesses and Lions. I hope you are all doing well and overcame your hump day with ease. Sadly, COVID-19 cases seem to be spiking once again in the Sunshine state with over 5,500 cases reported on Wednesday.
Fortunately, away from the coronavirus and other sources of ever perpetual bad news, some good news was released for soccer fans. And on that note, let’s get into the links.
MLS is Back Tournament Schedule Released
At long last, MLS has announced the official schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament. The league has announced the dates of all fixtures, including when the latter stages of the competition will be held. Orlando City will face Inter Miami CF in the first match of the competition at 8 p.m. on July 8 (ESPN). The match-up will be the first battle between the Florida sides. Later that day, Nashville SC will take on the Chicago Fire at 10:30 p.m. The Lions will face New York City FC in their second game at 10:30 p.m. on July 14 (TUDN). Finally, Orlando City will participate in one of the seven morning matches, facing off against Nashville SC at 9 a.m. on July 20 (ESPN).
The round of 16 will include four straight days of double headers from July 25-28. The quarterfinals will be held as two doubleheaders on July 31 and Aug. 1. The semifinals will be Aug. 5-6. And last but not least, the final will be held on Aug. 11 at 8 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes the First Side to Land in Orlando
The San Jose Earthquakes received a classy welcome from Orlando City to the new capital of MLS, as the Quakes were the first team to touch down in Orlando for the upcoming tournament.
Despite the competition still being 13 days away, the MLS sides are now going to start infiltrating Orlando to find their feet and get acclimated to the relentless Florida heat prior to the 54-day competition.
Former MLS is Back Tournament Significant flaw” Solved
In last week’s installment of Lion Links, a “significant flaw” in the MLS is Back Tournament was mentioned that could have potentially harmed Orlando City. Mathematically, Orlando City, the Philadelphia Union, Inter Miami, New York City FC, the Chicago Fire, and Nashville SC each only had a 50% chance of advancing to the round of 16 compared to a 65% chance of advancing for all other teams.
Fortunately, said flaw has been solved. Now, the top three sides in Group A will automatically advance to the round of 16. Evan Weston tweeted a photo explaining the newly mandated solution.
Really glad the league took the step to fix the Round of 16 qualification. This is a huge boost to #OrlandoCity and all the other Group A teams. Here are the details, in case you want to game out who Orlando might face should they advance. pic.twitter.com/pxxshEvLke— Evan Weston (@EvanLWeston) June 24, 2020
Colorado Rapids Player Tests Positive for COVID-19
Unfortunately, the Colorado Rapids have confirmed that an anonymous player has tested positive for the coronavirus. While soccer is coming back, it must not be forgotten that COVID-19 still remains an ever-present issue.
The positive test for the Rapids player follows three other recent positive results within the last week: Atlanta United announced positive tests on June 18 and 19, while Inter Miami also announced on June 19 that they had a player test positive. Prior to that, the other MLS clubs recently announcing positive tests include D.C. United (June 13), FC Dallas (June 3) and the Philadelphia Union (April 1), with Kacper Przybylko revealing he was the Union player to contract COVID-19. NYCFC announced on March 19 that a member of the club’s sporting department tested positive.
- Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod weighed in on Instagram regarding this week’s events.
View this post on Instagram
Well. The internet is a pretty horrible place sometimes. All I know is right now so many of my teammates and staff are struggling- and as much as I love football, health comes first. I believe in positive vibes and that anger and fear can often bring out the worst in all of us, including myself. Effort, though, is never wasted, I am so blessed to have learned so much in the past few months- i am still growing parts of my game at 37 and now, because of my time here, have a renewed self-confidence. On top of that I have had the pleasure of playing with players who are some of the best in the world, and more than that, I have made new friends which is the greatest gift of all. I am proud to play for this club and hope it won’t be the last chance I get to wear the @orlpride crest on my chest. Stay safe, this pandemic is far from over, we are all in this together.
- Former Orlando City player Richie Laryea has signed a new contract with Toronto FC. The 25-year-old Canadian will continue on with his boyhood club going into the future. Details of the contact are undisclosed.
- Fubo and Disney have reached a distribution agreement that will allow Fubo to grant access to all Disney channels going into the future. For those subscribed to Fubo, watching MLS will be much easier and cheaper.
- TNT will no longer be the home of the UEFA Champions League in the United States. Reports suggest CBS has acquired rights from 2021-2024.
- Juventus and Barcelona have supposedly agreed to a swap deal of Arthur Melo for Miralem Pjanic. The Brazilian has already moved to Turin officially and now it appears as if the Bosnian midfielder will be heading to Spain.
That’ll do, pig. That is all for this Thursday. Keep on keeping on, but make sure you also don a mask. I’ll catch you on the flip side.