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Lion Links: 7/21/20

Orlando City draws, no 2020 Ballon d’Or, Impact announce a signing, and more.

Orlando City SC v Philadelphia Union - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Good morning, everyone. It was a mixed bag last night for Orlando City, but the team still managed to pick up a point and finish top of Group A. There’s lots to talk about today so let’s dive right in.

Orlando City Draws Philadelphia Union, Wins Group A

The Lions weren’t able to make it three wins from three in group play last night against the Philadelphia Union, as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. It’s tricky to know how to feel about the result. On the one hand, Orlando fought back and responded well after going 1-0 down in the second half. On the other, Orlando often seemed to be on the front foot during the game, with the team able to put seven shots on target while having 54% of the ball. At the end of the day though, the result both gave the team a point in the regular season standings and ensured the Lions finished on top of Group A, courtesy of goal difference. If you’d offered me seven points from three games and a first place finish in Group A before the start of this tournament I’d have taken it no questions asked.

Check back later today for Daniel Finton’s player grades and Man of the Match and our five takeaways from the game by Joshua Taylor.

No 2020 Ballon d’Or

France Football announced that there will not be a 2020 Ballon d’Or award. With the award having been given out every year since 1956, the organizers have said that because of COVID-19, they feel that it wouldn’t have been right to name a winner of the award this year, and had the following to say:

“We did not want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize list as ‘a trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the health crisis of Covid-19.’”

The reasoning behind it is pretty clear cut, and I think the organizers do have a point. With all of the weirdness surrounding the latter two and a half months of lots of soccer seasons, I understand why France Football felt it was easier to simply not name a winner this year.

Impact Sign Kizza

The Montreal Impact have announced the signing of Mustafa Kizza from Ugandan club Kampala CC. Kizza is a 20-year-old defender who has also been capped by the Ugandan national team, having made 10 appearances for his country. He’s rated as one of the better youth prospects in Uganda, and has five goals and a whopping 12 assists in only 19 games for his club in the 2019-20 season. He signed a two-year contract with the Impact but because of COVID-19 travel restrictions he will stay with his team in Uganda until December on loan from Montreal.

Leroux Speaks About Ellis

Sydney Leroux was not shy in voicing her opinion about former USWNT coach Jill Ellis on a recent podcast appearance. When speaking on The Crack Podcast with DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu, Leroux was asked how she thinks Jill Ellis became a national team coach. The Orlando Pride coach did not mince words when it came to speaking about Ellis, saying that she felt the USWNT won in spite of their coach, and that “...she is not good for people’s mental health, that’s for sure.” Ellis is far from a stranger to criticism, with her lineup decisions and tactics frequently coming under fire during the 2019 World Cup, with the benching of Lindsey Horan against France drawing a particular amount of spite.

Free Kicks

That’ll be all for me today, as always y’all stay safe out there.