Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! We are only one sleep away from Orlando City’s opening match of the 2021 MLS playoffs at Nashville SC. How are you feeling? Confident? Worried? I know I’m going to be a bit on edge for a day or so. The good news is that we don’t have to wait much longer. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride player Taylor Kornieck!
Orlando City Prepares for MLS Playoffs
The Lions made the MLS playoffs for the second year in a row, but this is not Óscar Pareja’s first or even second rodeo. Pareja has advanced 18 times in of 28 tries in the postseason (this includes draws followed by penalty shootout wins), including last year’s results during his first season in Orlando. Lions forward Daryl Dike and center back Robin Jansson spoke about the team’s mentality heading into Tuesday’s match.
The Lions have drawn Nashville in all three matches between the two teams this season. While that is still a possibility in the playoffs, only one team will advance. If the game does end level, Orlando City has some experience winning a shootout as you might remember from last year’s match with New York City FC, which happened one year and one day ago.
Home Teams Advance in MLS Playoff Games
Atlanta United traveled to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC. As is often the case, the postage stamp of a pitch helped the Pigeons and they defeated Atlanta, 2-0. Valentin Castellanos and Alexander Callens scored for NYCFC and Atlanta center back Alan Franco earned a red card in stoppage time. NYCFC will now travel to take on the waiting New England Revolution on Nov. 30. The Philadelphia Union won 1-0 against the New York Red Bulls thanks to a late strike from Jakob Glesnes. The result means that the Lions will not host a playoff game this postseason and will travel to Philadelphia if they advance.
In the Western Conference, Minnesota United FC took an early lead against the Portland Timbers, but was unable to hold on as the Timbers scored three goals to move on in the playoffs. Minnesota Head Coach Adrian Heath spoke about the inconsistency that plagued his club this season. Sporting Kansas City also won 3-1 against the Vancouver Whitecaps and will play the winner of tomorrow’s match between the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake.
CF Montréal Claims a Concacaf Champions League Spot
Although Toronto FC and CF Montréal missed out on the MLS playoffs, they still had a match to play after Decision Day. The two squared off in the Canadian Championship final, with Romell Quioto’s second-half strike bringing home the hardware for Montréal. After the win, Montréal coach Wilfried Nancy pointed to the 2-0 loss to Orlando City and missing out on the playoffs as part of the motivation to win the domestic title. The victory is worth more than just bragging rights in Canada as Montreal secured a place in the Concacaf Champions League next year.
As for Toronto, reports surfaced following the loss that forward Jozy Altidore will leave the club. If true, it would be the end of an era and open up a Designated Player slot for Toronto heading into the off-season.
European Soccer Returns With Plenty of Changes
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left his role as Manchester United’s manager following the club’s 4-1 loss to Watford on Saturday. Former player Michael Carrick, who was a part of Solskjaer’s staff, will take charge for the team’s match tomorrow against Villareal in the UEFA Champions League.
Speaking of managers, Xavi won his first match at the helm of FC Barcelona with a 1-0 win over Espanyol. Steven Gerrard also won in his managerial debut as Aston Villa beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0. Elsewhere, Lionel Messi scored his first goal in Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund closed the gap between it and Bayern Munich, and Fiorentina won 4-3 against AC Milan in a thrilling match that featured forwards Dusan Vlahovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic trading goals.
- The Orlando Pride’s Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are doing their part to light the city purple in support of the Lions’ playoff campaign.
- In the USL Championship semifinals, former Lion Santiago Patino converted his kick in the penalty shootout but his San Antonio FC side fell to Orange County SC. The Californian club will head to Florida for the final against the Tampa Bay Rowdies this Sunday and you can watch the game on ESPN.
- The No. 1 Florida State Seminoles defeated No. 19 Pepperdine University to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. FSU will next play No. 9 Michigan this coming Friday in Tallahassee.
- Don’t throw stuff from the stands. You think it wouldn’t be that hard to follow such a simple rule, but it wasn’t so easy for a supporter at the match between Lyon and Marseille. Someone threw a water bottle and hit Dimitri Payet in the head, prompting officials to abandon the match.
That will do it for today. Vamos Orlando!