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Lion Links: 8/28/20

Oscar Pareja supports players, Real Salt Lake owner’s controversial comments, Orlando City B plays tonight, and more.

MLS: MLS IS BACK Final-Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Hopefully your work week wasn’t too bad as we now prepare for the weekend. Orlando soccer is scheduled both today and tomorrow, but be prepared for some thunderstorms these next few days as well. Let’s go ahead and dive right into today’s links from the soccer world.

Oscar Pareja Speaks Up

After his team received backlash on social media for playing Wednesday night, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja made it clear that the team would not have played if it had more information and better timing prior to the match.

“I understand maybe some people who think we should have not played,” Pareja said. “I think we would have done it. I think we would have just not played the game if we had all the information and good timing. We didn’t know the whole thing.”

Orlando City’s 3-1 win over Nashville SC was the only MLS game played Wednesday night after five matches were postponed as MLS players join other athletes across the nation to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake. As for Nashville, midfielder Dax McCarty and defender Jalil Anibaba detailed the situation leading up the game and why it was played.

MLS Reactions Regarding Player Protests

LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony Kaye was vocal about Orlando City playing, despite the time crunch and lack of information Orlando had at the time.

Kaye also made it clear that the players made the decision not to play, not the league, and Seattle Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer supported that sentiment as well. Sporting Kansas City Head Coach Peter Vermes voiced his support for the players and FC Cincinnati winger Joseph-Claude Gyau used his platform to speak out against racism.

While most across the league and beyond have supported the players’ decision, Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen criticized his players on local radio for not playing against LAFC.

“It’s a moment of sadness,” Hansen said. “It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect was profound to me personally.”

Jozy Altidore called for Hansen to sell the team, stating he is involved in a group that could buy RSL. Utah Royals FC’s Tziarra King called Hansen’s comments unacceptable and RSL defender Nedum Onuoha stated he does not want to play for Hansen. The Athletic reported on a history of racial abuse from Hansen that made the MLS Players Association release a statement of its own for Hansen to be suspended and investigated.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber released a statement as well and the league will begin an investigation into the allegations. The NWSL will also be investigating.

Orlando City B Hosts Tormenta FC Tonight

In USL League One, Orlando City B sits at the bottom of the standings and has a chance to change that tonight at home against Tormenta FC. The Young Lions are coming off a rough 3-1 loss on the road and now hosts a Tormenta side coming off a 2-1 road win against Chattaooga Red Wolves SC. OCB fell 2-0 against Tormenta earlier this season, but hopefully the team gets a boost playing at Osceola Heritage Park for this match.

The Lionel Messi Saga Continues

FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu pledged to quit if Messi decided to stay with the club. It’s unlikely Messi will stay at this point and Wayne Rooney wants to see him play in the English Premier League. Although Barcelona will continue pushing for Messi to stay with the club, the Spanish club may find a replacement in Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. It will be interesting to see just where Messi will wind up and how Barcelona will look without him.

Free Kicks
  • Two of the four Orlando Pride matches in the NWSL Fall Series will be on national television, per Steven Goff.

That’s going to be it from me today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a greater Friday and an even greater weekend.