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Lion Links: 8/2/20

Dwyer has knee surgery, OCB loses season opener, Lions will face former coach in semifinals, and more.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, everyone. It’s understandable if you’re still hopped up from Friday night’s match and Orlando City getting past LAFC, but there’s a lot more work for the Lions to do this week and at least now they know who they’re working against. More on that below.

It’s Orlando Pride rookie defender Konya Plummer’s birthday today, so let’s all party like rock stars on her behalf. But first, on to the news of the day.

Dwyer Out 4-6 Months After Knee Surgery

Things went from bad to worse for Orlando City’s striker. Dom Dwyer left the MLS is Back bubble to have an MRI on his knee and the news couldn’t have been good because the club reported yesterday that the veteran forward underwent surgery on Friday to repair his patella tendon. Dwyer will miss four to six months during his recovery, so that puts his return to the field some time in 2021, which is after his current contract expires. Has Dom played his last game in purple? Time will tell, but we wish him a full and speedy recovery.

OCB Kicks Off 2020 Season, Falls 2-0

The Young Lions got their first chance to get on the pitch last night, traveling to South Georgia to play Tormenta FC. It was Marcelo Neveleff’s debut as OCB’s head coach and it didn’t go well. The Young Lions struggled in the attacking third to find each other and to put their shots on frame in a 2-0 road loss. In fact, OCB didn’t record a single shot on target.

The Young Lions looked better organized than last year but they also looked like a young team comprised of almost entirely new players that was playing its first game of the year against a more veteran team playing its third match of the season — which is exactly what was happening last night. This is essentially an expansion team of teenagers and young twenty-somethings and by the time they get in a groove, a good chunk of the 16-game 2020 season will likely be gone.

By the way, if you’re wondering how the club is approaching OCB this season, this story has you covered.

Orlando City Will See Familiar Faces in Semifinals

Once the Lions got past LAFC on Friday, it was almost inevitable that Minnesota United would be Orlando City’s opponent. Former OCSC gaffer Adrian Heath’s side scored twice in the early going and the Loons went on to beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 4-1.

Orlando will meet Heath and former Lions Kevin Molino and Jose Aja on Thursday night at 8 p.m. in the MLS is Back semifinals. Actually, Molino has been hampered by a knock, but Aja has played regularly and has a couple assists in this tournament. Heath, meanwhile, had a lot of success on the grounds of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex while guiding the USL Lions. It’ll be the second straight game in the tournament for Orlando City against a team it has yet to beat.

In the late match last night, the Portland Timbers overcame a 1-0 deficit to eliminate New York City FC, 3-1, preventing all three Group A teams from advancing to the semifinals. Diego Valeri and Andy Polo scored in the second half off the bench to knock out the Pigeons.

Orlando City’s Success Has Come with New Approach

Jeff Carlisle of ESPN is asking the same question that many others are pondering: are the 2020 Lions for real? I’ll have a story on that later today, actually (so look for that here at TML), but for now it’s simply too early to tell. One thing that’s different this year is the team’s approach under Oscar Pareja.

What’s changed is that even with Pereyra in the fold, Pareja has opted for a more methodical approach in attack, using a steady build-up style through the use of outside backs Ruan and Joao Moutinho. Ruan in particular was effective in getting forward during the win over Montreal. The Brazilian was an effective weapon on Friday as well, winning a penalty that was ultimately saved by LAFC keeper Kenneth Vermeer.

There are risks to such an approach, of course, but forward Tesho Akindele, who also played under Pareja in Dallas, feels there is balance to the side in that the holding midfielders and center-backs are making sure they are in good spots, even when Orlando is in possession.

Orlando City’s Top 10 Wins?

Dylan Butler put together a list of Orlando City’s 10 biggest wins (in the MLS era) and interestingly the top three on the list were officially draws. I’m not sure how a draw can be one of your top two wins, or how a penalty shootout can count as one of your top wins, because there’s so much chance involved. OK, so the headline says wins while the story correctly says “results,” which makes way more sense.

One of my personal favorites was that first home MLS win vs. the LA Galaxy in 2015 — what a complete performance that was against the defending champs. What do you think of this list?

Free Kicks
  • Go inside the numbers of Orlando City’s quarterfinal match against LAFC.
  • The Orlando Pride are embracing their habitual jinxing of teams in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup by offering this t-shirt.
  • Christian Pulisic scored for Chelsea but also left the FA Cup final loss to Arsenal shortly after halftime with an apparent hamstring injury that looked pretty serious.
  • Defender Luis Neto of Sporting CP reportedly turned down a transfer to New York City FC.
  • Those joining Konya Plummer with birthdays on this date include All in the Family star Carroll O’Connor (1924), actor Peter O’Toole (1932), filmmaker Wes Craven (1939), Blade Runner actor Joanna Cassidy (1945), singer/songwriter Andrew Gold (1951), former Rainbow and Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner (1951), former Saturday Night Live actor Victoria Jackson (1959), progressive rock genius Neal Morse (1960), and actor/filmmaker Kevin Smith (1970).

That’s all my time for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay tuned to The Mane Land for the buildup to Thursday night’s match against Minnesota United.