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Lion Links: 7/13/20

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MLS is Back Tournament updates, NWSL Challenge Cup results, Orlando brings the heat, and more.

Orlando City SC v Inter Miami CF - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! I didn’t take the time to go see how long it has been since I wrote Lions Links following an Orlando City victory, but it’s been quite a while. It feels good, doesn’t it? It was a great distraction from all the other things going on in the world and in our state. Fortunately, we only have one more day to wait until the Lions play New York City FC tomorrow at 8 p.m. Let’s get to the links!

MLS Match Postponed After Positive Tests

Toronto FC and D.C. United were supposed to play in the MLS is Back Tournament yesterday morning, however the match was postponed and then rescheduled for this morning at 9 a.m. One D.C. United player tested positive for COVID-19 and a Toronto FC player tested inconclusive on Saturday. MLS protocol is to test each player every other day, and on the day before a match. This is the second time the match was rescheduled after Toronto’s delayed arrival in Orlando moved the match from Friday to Sunday.

As teams are withdrawn and matches postponed, there are concerns about the tournament’s future. However, MLS is keeping a close eye on the tournament and it will continue. Orlando City defender João Moutinho weighed in on how he is feeling regarding the postponed match and the tournament itself.

“I feel good, to be honest,” defender João Moutinho said Sunday afternoon. “We’re all here, we stay in our rooms, we go to training, we come back. So I know that the likelihood of one of us getting infected is really, really slim. I think we’re even more protected here than if we were to stay at home. So I feel good, I feel confident. That’s something that I really don’t think much about. I’m just happy to be here and I’m happy that we get to play the tournament.”

MLS is Back Tournament Weekend Results

In the matches that were played this weekend, Saturday featured the New York Red Bulls defeating Atlanta United 1-0. The defeat marked the first time in 27 matches that Atlanta failed to score a goal. As satisfying as that result might be, it wasn’t the wildest match of the day. That honor went to the 4-0 drubbing the Columbus Crew gave FC Cincinnati. Lucas Zelarayán started the scoring for the Crew, Gyasi Zardes added a brace, and Youness Mokhtar finished it off. Cincinnati was completely outclassed and that doesn’t bode well for the club going forward in the tournament.

Even though the early match on Sunday was postponed, the two late matches did proceed as planned. In its match against Minnesota United last night, Sporting Kansas City was without Andreu Fontas due to a quad strain, midfielder Felipe Gutierrez thanks to season-ending knee surgery, and an unidentified player, who tested positive Thursday and is in quarantine.

The actual match was a bit of a wild affair, with SKC going up at the end of the first half after a Khiry Shelton goal. SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia was shown red in the 74th minute and it took Minnesota until stoppage time to score. After an own goal by Shelton, Kevin Molino scored in the dying moments of the match for the Loons to win 2-1.

In the late night match, Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids squared off. Albert Rusnak scored in the 27th minute and Damir Kreilach doubled the lead in the 76th minute in a dominant 2-0 win for Real Salt Lake.

In addition to the rescheduled Toronto FC and D.C. United match, the tournament continues tonight with LAFC taking on the Houston Dynamo at 8 p.m., and the LA Galaxy against the Portland Timbers in the 10:30 p.m. match.

NWSL Challenge Cup Results

The NWSL Challenge Cup continued Sunday as the Washington Spirit defeated the Houston Dash 1-0 after an early goal by Bayley Feist. The win lifted the Spirit into second place, though there are still other matches that will determine the standings heading into the quarterfinals. The second match of the day saw the Chicago Red Stars defeat the Utah Royals 1-0, with Casey Short scoring late to give the Red Stars their first win of 2020.

The final two matches of the qualification round are today and will have the Portland Thorns and OL Reign squaring off at 12:30 p.m. and Sky Blue FC facing the North Carolina Courage at 10 p.m.

Players and Fans Adapting to Tournament

While not a surprise to us, it’s very hot in Orlando. Toronto forward Jozy Altidore even tweeted about it. I’m not sure what you call it when someone whines in a tweet, but he’s not enjoying the warm welcome to Florida.

Of course, it’s not just the heat that teams are adapting to. As Jozy mentioned, there are the 9 a.m. matches as well. As professional athletes, players have sleep and meal schedules, and particular ways to prepare before matches. All of that has been thrown out the window for these early matches. It hasn’t been easy on supporters either. While we don’t have to get up too early to watch here in Orlando, others across the country have to get up before breakfast just to watch their team play.

Free Kicks
  • If you somehow haven’t seen what getting tested for COVID-19 looks like, here’s a closer look from the Orlando Pride’s Ali Riley.
  • We bid a sad farewell to England and Leeds United legend Jack Charlton, who passed away at the age of 85 years old. Charlton had 35 caps for England, including a victory in the 1966 World Cup. He also made a club record 773 appearances for Leeds over his 23-year career.
  • In a bit of good news, Andrés Reyes should be ready to play in Inter Miami’s next game following the injury he sustained in the match against Orlando City.
  • The hits keep coming for Inter Miami CF, as Chelsea’s Willian declined a three-year offer to play in South Florida.
  • It’s tough being an Orlando Pride supporter while the rest of the NWSL plays in the Challenge Cup. It’s also tough being the teams the club is rallying behind in each match, as the support is becoming a curse of sorts in matches.

I must say, it’s a bit weird writing about all this soccer stuff. It’s also very nice, so let’s keep things going by everybody being safe and wearing masks. Go City!