How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a pretty good week as an Orlando City fan, so hopefully those good vibes continue through the weekend. Before we hop into today’s links, let’s wish a very happy birthday to Orlando Pride draft pick Abi Kim, who was selected in the third round earlier this year in the 2020 NWSL College Draft.
Analyzing Orlando City’s Victory
Orlando City clinched a spot in the knockout round of the MLS is Back Tournament after a strong 3-1 win over New York City FC earlier this week. The Lions performed well across every position and the statistics back it up. Forward Chris Mueller not only scored twice in 10 minutes, but excelled in passing in the final third during the match. The Lions also dominated in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja is making the most of fullbacks João Moutinho and Ruan by playing to their strengths.
Here's a look at the #OrlandoCity fullbacks against NYCFC. Joao Moutinho operates as a deep-lying playmaker on the left side, while Ruan uses his speed to get up and down the flank and cover tons of ground. Oscar Pareja using his players' natural strengths to his advantage. pic.twitter.com/CU5GNfiDNq— Evan Weston (@EvanLWeston) July 16, 2020
Miguel Gallardo also broke down the key substitutions Pareja made to make sure the Lions hung on to their lead and grabbed all three points.
Forward Tesho Akindele also scored in the win and he attributes a lot of the Lions’ success to the preparation taken before the tournament began.
Lions Affected By MLS Rulings
In other Lion news, the MLS Disciplinary Committee issued Nani an undisclosed fine for embellishment after Tuesday’s game. Defender Robin Jansson had his yellow card rescinded for an incident with NYCFC forward Valentin Castellanos, who was fined for embellishment as well. The Lions also won’t have to worry about Philadelphia Union midfielder Jose Martinez, who was suspended for violent conduct and will miss the match between the two clubs on July 20.
Orlando City B’s Home Opener Announced
With the USL League One season set to begin this weekend, the league announced each team’s home opener for the season. Orlando City B won’t play at home until Aug. 14, when it hosts Fort Lauderdale CF at Osceola Heritage Park. It’s unclear when the Young Lions will play their first game on the season or who they will play, but hopefully more details on OCB’s schedule will come out soon.
NWSL Challenge Cup Begins Knockout Round
With the teams warmed up after the preliminary round, the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup starts its knockout stage today. The North Carolina Courage are the heavy favorites to win it all and they take on the Portland Thorns at 12:30 p.m. today. The rest of the field is fairly even, making for exciting matches throughout the tournament. Utah Royals SC host the Houston Dash later tonight. Tomorrow, OL Reign faces the Chicago Red Stars and the Washington Spirit take on Sky Blue FC. Although the Orlando Pride aren’t participating, there is still plenty to of women’s soccer to enjoy this weekend.
MLS is Back Tournament Results
Atlanta United fell 1-0 to FC Cincinnati in the tournament’s morning game yesterday. After Atlanta went a man down due to a red card in the first half, Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya scored a beauty for his first goal in MLS to lift his team to its first win of 2020.
Atlanta Head Coach Frank de Boer criticized the league having games at 9 a.m. and gave his thoughts on its impact not only on the players, but the fans watching at home. The Five Stripes have lost both of their games and have yet to score in the tournament.
In a Canadian showdown, Toronto FC defeated the Montreal Impact 4-3. Former Lion Richie Laryea got the scoring started and an Ayo Akinola hat trick sealed the deal to secure all three points for Toronto. The Columbus Crew clinched a spot in the knockout round after winning 2-0 over the New York Red Bulls.
Today’s games will all be played at night, with the New England Revolution’s trio of Designated Players leading the charge against D.C. United at 8 p.m. At that same time, the Colorado Rapids aim to bounce back in a tough match against Sporting Kansas City. Then later at 10:30 p.m., Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake face off with advancement going to the victor and both fans and RSL will have their eyes on former Lion Kevin Molino.
- The Lions may have earned a spot in the next round, but there is still plenty to prepare for when they take on the Union for the top spot in Group A.
- The Swan and Dolphin Resort where MLS teams are staying for the tournament will open one of its wings to the public the day after the Round of 16 ends. A courtyard separates the wings of the resort, and additional barriers will keep the final eight teams from interacting with hotel guests.
- With a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday, Real Madrid won the La Liga title for the first time since 2017.
- Christian Pulisic has had an incredible first year with Chelsea, but how does he compare to other Americans who have tried their luck in Europe?
- If you’re tired of scrolling through Netflix for something to watch, check out this documentary series that gives a unique look at young Orange County SC players and Rangers FC prospects. The episodes can be seen on ESPN2 Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. and they’ll be available to stream at the ESPNFC YouTube channel 48 hours after they air.
- Let’s end our links with some good news. After a heart attack forced him into retirement in 2019, goalkeeper Iker Casillas returned to the field to celebrate FC Porto’s league title.
Last year, Iker Casillas suffered a heart attack and hasn't played a game since.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 16, 2020
Yesterday, he celebrated Porto's title win. Great to see him back on the pitch pic.twitter.com/50CuR2JF1G
That’s going to be all from me today. I hope you all have a great Friday and rest of your weekend. It’s still kind of weird having both MLS and NWSL soccer to look forward to, but I’m hardly complaining.