Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando City as the club booked its ticket to the playoffs for the second year in a row. The Lions will now have some time to recover and prepare before their first-round match against Nashville SC, with the United States Men’s National Team stepping into the spotlight for the latest round of World Cup qualifying kicking off on Friday against Mexico. There’s lots to talk about today, so let’s get into it.
MLS Playoff Schedule Set
The schedule for the MLS Cup playoffs has been set. Orlando City will take on Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium on Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. The Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls play on Nov. 20, followed by Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver later in the day. Nov. 24 features NYCFC vs. Atlanta and Portland vs. Minnesota, with Real Salt Lake taking on Seattle following Orlando’s game on the 23rd. The conference semifinals kick off on Thanksgiving Day, with the Colorado Rapids taking on the winner of Portland vs. Minnesota, and they finish on Nov. 30 with New England playing the winner of Atlanta vs. NYCFC. If Orlando beats Nashville, it will play the winner of New York vs. Philadelphia, and would host if the Red Bulls pull off the upset. It’s worth noting that New England and Colorado got a bit of a rough deal for winning their respective conferences. The Rapids especially have reason to feel hard done by, and it’ll be interesting to see what sort of crowd they can draw on Thanksgiving Day at 4:30 in the afternoon. If you want to reserve single match tickets for a potential conference semifinal match with the Red Bulls should they become available, the club has opened up a waitlist.
Lions Honored after Sunday’s Heroics
Several Orlando City players were recognized for the parts they played in the Lions’ Decision Day victory that propelled the team into the playoffs. First up, Pedro Gallese and Daryl Dike were included on the bench of the most recent edition of the MLS Team of the Week. Gallese made an absolutely massive first-half save to keep things level at 0-0, and was steady overall in recording a clean sheet. Dike, meanwhile, scored his 10th goal of the season to give Orlando a 2-0 advantage and put the game on ice. The striker made an intelligent run, had a good first touch to give himself a better angle, and applied a cool finish under the keeper.
In some of the most unsurprising news from the weekend, Sebas Mendez was nominated for the MLS Goal of the Week for his thunderous blast from outside the box which gave Orlando a 1-0 lead the Lions would never relinquish. Congrats to all three players on some well deserved recognition!
Last one of 2021...— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 8, 2021
Who gets your vote for #ATTGotW?
WSL Coming to CBS
The FA Women’s Super League is coming to CBS Sports next summer. Between CBS Sports and Paramount+, 57 matches will be shown during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 seasons. Most games will stream on Paramount+, but a select number will be shown on CBS Sports. The WSL season runs concurrent with that of the Premier League, from September to May, and the coverage will provide something easily accessible for fans of women’s soccer when the NWSL is not in season, although there will be a bit of overlap during the beginning and end of the WSL campaign. CBS Sports is now the dominant force in women’s soccer as it also has rights to the NWSL, UEFA and Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Fire Announce Roster Decisions
The Chicago Fire are the first MLS team to announce end-of-season roster decisions, and there were some notable moves made. Some degree of roster turnover was to be expected after the Fire fired (haha) head coach Raphael Wicky midseason, but there are still some surprises on the list. The biggest name to not be returning is Designated Player Robert Beric, with Alvaro Medran and Luka Stojanović close behind him. Beric was signed ahead of the 2020 season with mixed results. After a good debut season in MLS, with 12 goals and an assist in 23 games, his 2021 nosedived as he tallied eight goals and three assists in 33 games. Stojanović actually had the same number of goals and one less assist in 27 games, which gives you an idea of the production, or lack thereof from Beric. While the Serbian was great in the attack for a midfielder he was apparently a bit difficult in the locker room and didn’t show much interest in defending. For a full breakdown of the moves, check out this piece from our friends over at Hot Time in Old Town.
PRO Admits Officiating Error
The Professional Referee Organization has issued a statement regarding an officiating...gaffe on the most important day of the MLS season so far. In the 90th minute, Real Salt Lake’s Justen Glad looked to have handled the ball in the penalty area, with the Sporting Kansas City players going mental appealing for a penalty kick to be awarded. None was forthcoming, and five minutes later Damir Kreilach won the game for RSL and sent the Utah-based side to the playoffs. PRO issued a statement acknowledging that a handball should have been called and a penalty kick awarded, placing the blame on the VAR who checked the play but did not recommend a video review to the referee. While the result only dropped SKC from second to third, an admission of error will be no consolation to the LA Galaxy, who got the result they needed against Minnesota United but did not make the playoffs due to RSL’s win.
- There was no such error when it came to the offside call on Rudy Camacho’s goal during Orlando’s match with Montreal.
OK, #MTLvORL offside call that goes against #CFMTL - I have him being offside by over a foot and a half. I have to admit that I thought he was onside at first too but this is exactly why I started doing this analysis. pic.twitter.com/317jPethfR— SoccerPhotogrammetry AKA "A Nice Gentleman" (@OffsideModeling) November 8, 2021
- Check out some top tier content from the Orlando City social media team.
Ridin' into playoffs like...— x - Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) November 8, 2021
@AlmightBenji | #MLSCupPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/aAn4FRq8DW
- It initially seemed like there was a little...leak regarding dates and times for two games of the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin was not particularly amused about the supposed start time for his team, or the way that he found out about it, and the dates were quickly removed from the MLS app. It’s interesting that when the official schedule dropped, the times had shifted.
Looks like Jim found out the same way we did pic.twitter.com/wkMxMqWuAf— x - Brotherly Game (@BrotherlyGame) November 8, 2021
- Weston McKennie sat down with NBC Sports and spoke about his growth, how he’s had to change since joining Juventus, and life with the United States Men’s National Team.
- Paul Pogba will not play for France during this international window after suffering an injury in training, while Lionel Messi joined Argentina for international duty despite missing Paris Saint-Germain’s last two games.
- New Barcelona coach Xavi has vowed to put new rules in place and be more demanding of his players as he looks to help the club recover from the most difficult position its been in for at least the last 15 years.
That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.