Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! Starting the week after another Lions victory is something I could get used to. That’s not to say all is good and right in the world or even with Orlando City, but it’s certainly better than not. I hope you and your friends and family are doing well and staying safe. We’re not all in the MLS is Back bubble, but wear a mask, social distance, and do your best to take care of yourself and those around you. Now, let’s get to the links!
Orlando City Not a Fluke
No one gave Orlando City much of a chance in the MLS is Back Tournament other than Head Coach Óscar Pareja and his players. Now, the Lions find themselves in the quarterfinals after winning Group A and defeating the Montreal Impact.
Despite the tournament taking place at Disney, Orlando’s run is far from a fantasy. Of course, the Lions are still under the radar as far as the pundits are concerned, but it’s not like they lucked into their position. Orlando City returned most of the personnel from the previous season, but look like a very different club on the pitch. It’s evident that the new style of play and the new culture Pareja brought to the club is paying dividends.
Dom Dwyer is Out for Remainder of Tournament
Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer won’t be able to return before the end of the tournament after he was sent outside of the bubble to get an MRI done on his knee. While the exact nature of the injury is still unknown, Dwyer is out of the tournament because even if the scan was negative, he’d have to quarantine again prior to rejoining the team. Although Dwyer did not contribute a goal in the tournament, he is still a talented attacking piece that Pareja won’t have available.
Houston Wins NWSL Challenge Cup
The Houston Dash defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 to win the NWSL Challenge Cup. Houston took the early lead after Sophie Schmidt converted a penalty in the fifth minute and Shea Groom sealed the victory with a second goal late in stoppage time. In their road to the final, the Dash advanced over the Utah Royals FC on penalties and defeated the Portland Thorns 1-0.
More MLS Clubs Advance
The MLS is Back Tournament continued with New York City FC cruising to a 3-1 win over Toronto FC to advance to the quarterfinals. It’s a big win for NYCFC after it barely squeezed into the knockout round and all three teams that advanced from Group A will play in the quarterfinals.
The late night match was a tighter affair, with Sporting Kansas City and the Vancouver Whitecaps going into a penalty shootout after neither team could score in 90 minutes. SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia continued his excellence in shootouts to give his team the win and a date in the quarterfinals against the Union. Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal deserves recognition as well. In just his second start in MLS, the 21-year-old Homegrown Player had eight saves, a clean sheet, and kept his team kicking throughout the night.
- Nani is stepping up as a leader for Orlando City, just as a Designated Player should. You can read more about the quality he and Pareja are bringing to the team in these observations from the knockout stage.
- Alex Morgan appeared on the CBS All Access pregame show to talk about the NWSL Challenge Cup. Even if the Orlando Pride attended and played, Morgan wasn’t going to feature in the tournament but she was impressed with the quality of the competition.
- Manchester United took care of business and secured a place in the Champions League thanks to a 2-0 win over Leicester City. Two late goals in the first half lifted Chelsea to a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton to claim the final qualification spot as well. Liverpool finished its title-winning season with a 3-1 win over Newcastle, and there was plenty of other action, as well.
- If you haven’t had a chance to see any of the English Premier League season, you can get a sense for how each team did in this season review.
That will do it for today. We will find out tonight which club Orlando City will face in the quarterfinals this Friday. Go Lions!