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Lion Links: 7/28/20

Orlando City’s quarterfinal opponent set, reasons for de Boer decision, Arriola signs extension, Concacaf qualifying changes, and more.

MLS is Back Orlando vs. Montreal Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. The MLS is Back Tournament continues to chug along, and considering the uncertainty currently surrounding the bubble-less Major League Baseball season, we should probably be extra grateful that it’s doing so. There’s plenty to talk about today so let’s hop in, right after we take a moment to wish Orlando Pride and USWNT defender Ali Krieger a happy birthday!

Orlando City to Face LAFC on Friday

We now know who the Lions will face on Friday in the MLS is Back quarterfinals, and the road ahead couldn’t be more difficult. Orlando City will play LAFC, which thumped the Seattle Sounders 4-1 last night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. LAFC blitzed Seattle early with intense, sustained pressure in the opening 20 minutes, taking a 1-0 lead on a Diego Rossi penalty. Seattle finally settled down a bit but the LAFC lead still grew to 2-0 before the break when former Lion Shane O’Neill deflected a Latif Blessing shot past Stefan Frei and into his own net to make it 2-0. Will Bruin gave Seattle a late lifeline but LAFC added two more quick goals in the closing 10 minutes. LAFC has scored three or more goals four times in six matches in 2020 and has yet to lose this season. Yikes.

In the other Round of 16 match Monday, the San Jose Earthquakes dispatched Real Salt Lake, 5-2. The Quakes blew open a 3-2 match at the end and RSL’s Marcelo Silva (84’) and Kyle Beckerman (90’) were sent off late.

Reasons for De Boer’s Departure

Atlanta United president Darren Eales has given an interview in which he speaks about the club’s decision to part ways with former head coach Frank de Boer. The long and short of it is that the people in charge didn’t believe that the team was performing under de Boer in a way that reflected their standards of the club. Eales made specific mention to the way the club plays being just as important to results, saying:

“We want to be a top club and play in way that’s exciting, dynamic and winning trophies.”

While Atlanta won both the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup, many felt the difference in the way the team played under de Boer as opposed to how it played under original manager Tata Martino was evident, and not necessarily in a good way. The club also announced that Atlanta United 2 head coach Stephen Glass has been named interim head coach of the first team effective immediately.

Arriola Extended

Paul Arriola has agreed to a new long-term contract extension with D.C. United. The extension runs through the 2023 season and has an option for 2024. The 25-year-old Designated Player has yet to play this season after tearing his ACL during preseason, and the fact that the club signed him to an extension despite his injury isn’t something that was lost on him.

“To show belief in me after I tore my ACL, that loyalty goes a long way. I want to give everything I have for this club, for good people. I can’t thank them enough for putting the trust in me and I’m 100% certain I won’t let them down.”

Arriola’s absence hampered D.C. at the MLS is Back Tournament, as the team only picked up two points during the group stage and finished bottom of Group C.

Concacaf Qualifying Format Changed

Concacaf has announced updates to its men’s international calendar and has also changed the format by which Concacaf teams will qualify for the 2022 World Cup. To begin, the sixth to 25th ranked nations in the FIFA rankings will be drawn into six groups of five, and each team will play the others in its group once. The six group winners will then face off against each other in a two-legged tie, with the three winners advancing to the final round of qualifying. The last round will see those three teams join the Concacaf teams ranked 1-5 in the FIFA rankings, with all eight teams then playing each other twice. Once that’s been done, the top three teams will qualify directly to the 2022 World Cup, with the fourth-place team going to an Intercontinental Playoff. Simple, right?

Mbappe Injury Update

Kylian Mbappe will miss approximately three weeks after spraining his ankle in the French Cup final. That means he will likely miss Paris Saint-Germain’s quarterfinal match with Atalanta on Aug. 12, dealing a big blow to the French champions. Mbappe came off worst in a nasty tackle from Saint Etienne captain Loic Perrin in the first half of last Friday’s win, that both sprained his right ankle and did some damage to some ligaments in the ankle. While he’s doubtful to play in the quarterfinals, if PSG can advance he might be able to participate in the semifinals.

Free Kicks
  • Check out Miguel Gallardo breaking down the buildup play that led to Orlando City’s winning goal on Saturday.

That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.