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Lion Links: 7/8/20

Oscar Pareja offers support to FC Dallas, OCSC and Miami’s budding rivalry, tournament schedule changes, and more.

SOCCER: FEB 29 MLS - Orlando City SC v Real Salt Lake

Good morning, Mane Landers. You know what today is, right? It’s an OCSC match day! Fingers crossed I haven’t spoken too soon. Let’s jump to the links.

Pareja Extends his Support to FC Dallas

Oscar Pareja knows how hard and mentally taxing this tournament is going to be for everyone, especially his former team, FC Dallas, which withdrew from the tournament due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the team.

“My respect for the ones that are here, including the ones who have [found it] challenging like FC Dallas, that they have the courage to be here and make that happen. I hope that the boys are healthy and we can overcome that. But we are proud of Major League Soccer, and we want to show our game to the world. And we’re committed to do that,” said Pareja.

“The mental part that Nani mentioned, or many other players mentioned, it could be the most difficult one. And I know everyone is trying to overcome that. And that’s great,” he said, taking “the opportunity to congratulate all the players that are here, the coaches that are committed with this project here. It’s not easy.”

Potential Rivalry Brewing

Not only will tonight’s OCSC vs. Inter Miami match be the first MLS match in four months, but it’s the first clash between the two Florida teams. The players spoke about the growing rivalry.

Orlando’s Tesho Akindele said, “It’s definitely a rivalry between the fans and that’s how all rivalry starts. As soon as we step on the field with them, we’ll feel it. Then the more we play against them, the rivalry will build.”

The feeling goes both ways.

“Part of the reason I came to this organization, I wanted to be part of history,” Inter Miami captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles said. ”I wanted to be part of something special. To have an opportunity to help lead the team out on the field to not only hope to lead the team to our first ever win, but hopefully our first win against our rivals Orlando City.”

Miami’s Victor Ulloa will reunite with former coach, Oscar Pareja tonight, this time on opposite ends of the pitch building the rivalry even more.

“Oscar is a very important person for me in my life and my career,” Ulloa said last week. ”I’ll always be thankful of that. Now it’ll be interesting to play against him on the other side and I hope to beat him. I told him that already.”

MLS is Back Tournament Games Rescheduled

MLS announced yesterday that the July 8 match between Nashville SC and Chicago Fire FC has been postponed. Several Nashville players have tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving and their participation in the tournament is being closely monitored following additional testing. The rescheduled match date and time will be announced at a later date.

Additional changes to the schedule have been announced. Toronto FC vs. D.C. United moved from July 10 to July 12 at 9 a.m. due to Toronto’s delayed arrival. As a result of that change, the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders will play July 10 at 9 p.m.

Portland Timbers Supporting Players’ Families

Portland Timbers manager Giovanni Savarese said the club is providing help including meals, housekeepers, and even nannies to families of players who are currently in the bubble here in Orlando.

“Every family has different needs, some are receiving food directly to their home so they don’t have to go to the supermarket, some are getting nannies, some are getting people to clean their house, making sure if someone needs transportation we have at all times people back in Portland making sure that everything is taken care of,” said Savarese in a video conference. “We had a meeting with the families asking how we can continue to help, is there any concern and from that standpoint I think the club has done a great job.”

Free Kicks

That’s going to do it for me today, everyone. Here’s hoping for a W! Have a great day and stay safe.