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Lion Links: 8/11/20

MLS is Back Tournament award finalists, keys for the final, Sam Mewis moves to England, and more.

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Orlando City v Minnesota United: Semifinals - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Today is the day. Orlando City will take on the Portland Timbers this evening in the final of the MLS is Back Tournament. To say I’m excited would perhaps be the understatement of the year, especially considering that Orlando is playing for silverware for the first time since joining MLS as an expansion side. Obviously there’s lots to talk about so let’s dive right in.

Tournament Award Nominees

Major League Soccer has announced the nominees for the various awards at the MLS is Back Tournament. Orlando City players feature heavily across the four awards categories. Nani is nominated for Player of the Tournament, and the Best XI, while Pedro Gallese is up for the Golden Glove and inclusion in the Best XI. Joao Moutinho is in the pool for Young Player of the Tournament and Best XI, while Ruan, Antonio Carlos, Chris Mueller, and Mauricio Pereyra are all nominated for the Best XI. The Lions had someone from every position nominated for the Best XI, with the back line in particular getting plenty of recognition. Vote on Major League Soccer’s Twitter account to show the boys some love.

Three Keys for the Final

Orlando City faces a tough test in the final against a Portland team that’s looked formidable for the duration of the tournament. If the Lions want to succeed then a point of focus should be getting the ball out of the box quickly. The Timbers like to flood numbers into the box and the quicker Orlando can get the ball out of the danger area the better. Perhaps the most important thing will be winning the midfield battle though. Portland is absolutely stacked with Sebastian Blanco and Diego Chara running the show, and if Orlando can’t neutralize the duo then it’ll make a tough task much harder. Finally, Nani has to shine brighter than Blanco and continue the excellent run of form he’s been on so far. If all of those things happen then OCSC’s chances should be pretty good.

Mewis to Manchester City

Manchester City has signed USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis from the North Carolina Courage on a permanent deal. While the length of the deal was not announced Mewis is expected to be with the English club for the “foreseeable future.” The Mewis news comes at a time when the National Women’s Soccer League has spoken about its desire to play more games before 2020 is over, but no definite plans have been announced. Mewis is a big signing for Man City. She has 67 appearances for the U.S. with 18 goals and six assists, and not only is a World Cup champion but she’s also won the NWSL three times.

Women’s Community Shield Returns

The English Football Association is reportedly set to announce the return of the Women’s Community Shield. The match hasn’t been played since 2008, but the FA is said to be finalizing a deal for Manchester City and Chelsea to play directly before the men’s match on Aug. 29. No women’s soccer has been played domestically since February, and the FA apparently feels that a curtain raising event for the league is very important after the long layoff. The game has not taken place in the Women’s Soccer League era, and its unclear whether this would become an annual event or simply a one-off.

Free Kicks
  • The Lions are a confident bunch going into tonight’s match, writes Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel.
  • The USL League One power rankings have been released, with Orlando City B coming in at 10th out of the 11 teams after beating New England Revolution II over the weekend.
  • The MLS is Back Tournament has set a Guiness World Record.

That’ll be all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there and vamos Orlando!