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Lion Links: 7/31/20

Orlando City ready for LAFC, Uri Rosell compares LAFC to Barcelona, Oscar Pareja’s impact on Orlando, and more.

Orlando City SC v Montreal Impact: Knockout Round - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? We’ve reached the end of July, with August and the weekend right around the corner. It’s been a pretty great month considering it featured the return of MLS action and the NWSL Challenge Cup. We also have more Orlando City soccer to enjoy tonight thanks to the club’s big quarterfinal match against LAFC at 7:30 p.m. Let’s get to that and more in today’s links!

Lions Face Their Toughest Test Tonight

LAFC is not only the favorite in tonight’s quarterfinal match, but is also the favorite to win the MLS is Back Tournament itself. However, the Lions didn’t reach the quarterfinals by accident and are playing some of their best soccer in years under Head Coach Oscar Pareja. The Lions have only conceded three goals in the tournament and that defense will surely be tested against Diego Rossi and the rest of LAFC’s explosive offense. Pareja expects a good battle between the two sides with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

“LAFC has had a lot of work on their process the last couple years and you have to respect that, but we’re confident,” he said. “We have ourselves, we have this group of players who are committed to doing the right things and I know LA has to do a bunch of good things in order to get a result and we know that we have to do the same. It’s going to be a very good match.”

Uri Rosell Compares LAFC to Barcelona

Orlando City defensive midfielder Uri Rosell has done well so far, especially in Orlando’s last game against the Montreal Impact, where he completed 80 of his 82 passes. But the 28-year-old will definitely have his hands full against LAFC. A graduate of La Masia, the academy of FC Barcelona, Rosell pointed out similarities between LAFC’s attacking style and Barcelona’s.

“The way LAFC counter-press is similar to Barcelona,” Rosell told reporters on a video conference call Wednesday. ”Like Barcelona, they possess the ball the majority of time and are in a very good position when they lose it so within 3-5 seconds they can get it back. I saw that when they played against Seattle, they were very good with that. We’ll have to be very concentrated.”

Even if knowing is half the battle, Rosell and the rest of Orlando’s midfield will not only have to keep LAFC’s offense at bay, but also make sure the ball gets rolling on the counter for the Lions.

Pareja’s Impact on Orlando

The Lions are certainly playing well under Pareja. but the effect he’s having on the club is clear off the field as well. Executive Vice President Luiz Muzzi found Pareja as the perfect fit to lead Orlando and the Colombian immediately began building a strong foundation for the Lions moving forward. The results on the field have been impressive and could be a good indicator of what’s to come for the club in the future. The video below will give a good idea of the clear mentality Pareja brings to the Lions as head coach.

MLS is Back Tournament Story Lines

The first semifinalist in the tournament was decided last night between the Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City. The Union rode a big first half to a 3-1 win over SKC.

Although these games won’t count towards the regular season standings, winning the tournament is important for every team remaining. There are story lines to watch for across the quarterfinals, including Chris Wondolowski’s role as a substitute for the San Jose Earthquakes and New York City FC’s resurgence after a rough group stage. Although LAFC remains the favorite, every team has a shot and it’s making for very exciting soccer.

If the Lions advance after tonight, they will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between San Jose and Minnesota United. In the other game tomorrow night, NYCFC takes on the Portland Timbers.

Free Kicks
  • In case you needed anything more to hype you up for tonight, check out the Lions training for the match.
  • If looking for some new art for your home, Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley has you covered.

That’s going to be it for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have fun tonight for the game and have a great weekend as well.