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Lion Links: 4/19/21

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Alexandre Pato’s concerning exit, MLS results, Americans scoring abroad, and more.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! I know that we all wanted a win to start the season, but we should have known a draw was coming considering Orlando City’s track record when opening the season. Saturday was Orlando’s sixth time starting the season with a draw in MLS.

The Injury Bug is Already Biting the Lions

Orlando City supporters were rightly worried when Orlando forward Alexandre Pato left the match limping in the second half after an awkward landing. We are all still waiting on a definitive answer to how Pato is doing and his status is one of the major concerns following Orlando’s match against Atlanta United. Despite the Lions not being able to score, the defense was solid enough to earn a clean sheet and start the 2021 season with a point.

MLS’ First Week Back Wraps Up

The MLS season continued on Sunday with several matches, including Inter Miami’s 3-2 loss to the LA Galaxy. In a bit of awesomeness, former Lion Sacha Kljestan scored the game-winner in the 81st minute. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored the Galaxy’s first two goals and was emotional after the match. There were also some early celebrations between two old teammates after Miami’s first goal of the season.

The Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union each earned a point in their 0-0 result. Two of the Eastern Conference’s toughest teams splitting points is about as good a result as the Lions could hope for. In the late match, Vancouver Whitecaps forward Lucas Cavallini scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers.

Americans Impressed Abroad This Weekend

Orlando forward Daryl Dike played all 90 minutes of Barnsley’s 2-0 loss to Coventry City, but obviously wasn’t able to get a goal in the match. Elsewhere, it was an eventful weekend for American players across Europe. FC Barcelona’s Sergino Dest became the first American to win the Copa del Rey, starting and playing 74 minutes in a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. Zack Steffen started in goal for Manchester City, losing 1-0 to Christian Pulisic and Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals. Giovanni Reyna scored his first goal of 2021 for Borussia Dortmund in a 4-1 win over Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen.

Yunus Musah returned to the pitch for Valencia in La Liga, but was unable to get on the scoreboard in a 2-2 draw on the road. Julian Green also scored a goal in the 2. Bundesliga in Greuther Furth’s 2-2 draw with Darmstadt.

Europe’s Biggest Clubs Pushing for Super League

There’s been talk for a while that the biggest clubs in the world might break away and form a European super league. A total of 12 clubs, including the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, announced they were launching the league. The idea is that 15 permanent clubs and five rotating clubs would make up the new league. If created, the league would jeopardize the UEFA Champions League, which was expected to announce a new 36-team format today.

Needless to say, the domestic leagues are not happy about this potential development and are taking action to try and stop it. Things are going to get interesting.

At least one club decided that despite having famous owners (actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney) it is not going to join the potential new super league.

Free Kicks
  • In case you missed it, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris won NWSL Save of the Week.
  • The New York Red Bulls are reportedly inking a deal with Celtic striker Patryk Klimala. The Poland native has only been in the Scottish League since the beginning of 2020.
  • A potential pitch invader made his way into a closed-door match in England. It’s one thing when the stands are full, but to make it in when security is not just around the pitch, but the stadium itself? That’s commitment.
  • On Sunday, 4,000 supporters made their way into Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup semifinal match between Leicester City and Southampton. The match was a test event to see how English soccer can deal with allowing fans back into the stands. Those in attendance underwent testing prior to the match and needed to show negative results on their phones before entering.

That will do it for me today. I can’t tell you how happy I am for Orlando’s season to officially be underway. Vamos Orlando!