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Lion Links: 5/18/21

Exploria Stadium returning to full capacity, Antonio Carlos makes TotW, Chris Mueller strives to keep improving, and more.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was a good weekend to be an Orlando soccer fan. Both the Orlando Pride and Orlando City got results, which is always fantastic. On a personal note, I just started a new job, so there are exciting times all around. As usual, there’s a lot to talk about today, so let’s get to it.

Exploria Stadium Going Back to Full Capacity

Orlando City announced that Exploria Stadium will return to full capacity for both Orlando City and Orlando Pride games starting in June. Specifically, beginning with the Pride’s match against NJ/NY Gotham FC on June 20 and followed by the Lions’ match against the San Jose Earthquakes on June 22, the purple palace will be back open to hosting games at full capacity. The stadium would likely be returning to full capacity even sooner, following the lead of teams like Atlanta United, but the club had already sold tickets in a limited capacity to games through the end of May. Aside from seats near the team benches and the tunnel, all seats will be available.

Antonio Carlos Named to MLS Team of the Week

Antonio Carlos has received his due for his part in Orlando shutting out D.C. United on the road on Sunday. After another strong performance anchoring the Lions’ back line, Carlos was included in the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Week. Carlos finished the game with 13 (!) clearances, and three interceptions on the defensive side, which in itself would be plenty impressive. He also chipped in offensively though, with his seven of 11 long balls completed standing out. The defender was rated highly by our own Sean Rollins as well, with a grade of 7/10 that was equal to Man of the Match Mauricio Pereyra. Well done AC!

Mueller Still Wants More

Chris Mueller has now made 100 appearances for Orlando City. Even though he’s been successful going into his fourth year as a Lion, he doesn’t plan to sit on his laurels. After a breakout third season the Money Badger wants to continue to improve on what he has been able to accomplish so far. He spoke about how much his success to this point has meant to him.

“You grow so much as a person away from the field, you grow so much as a player, you learn new things, you gain so many new experiences with so many people and different faces, different cultures. You can’t put a price tag on the experiences that I’ve had.”

Hopefully Cash continues to grow and meet the new goals that he keeps setting for himself.

Losada Critical of Orlando’s Tactics

Hernan Losada wasn’t too pleased with some of Orlando’s tactics during the Lions’ win on Sunday. He wasn’t super high on some of OCSC’s time-wasting tactics, but he was definitely not a fan of the defensive style that the team employed after taking the lead.

“If there is one way to lose, this is the way. A way where you dominate the whole game, a way where the opponent doesn’t know what else to do to neutralize the game, to make time, to park the bus,” he said. “It’s like they didn’t want to play after they scored the goal and that’s a lot for a team with the quality of Orlando, all their stars I didn’t see them on the field and that’s thanks to the effort and the game and the team, the way they worked and played today.”

D.C.’s head man is certainly entitled to his opinion, but I think its a bit left of center. While DCU had 55% of the possession, his side managed only 13 shots and only got one of those on target, so “dominate” is maybe a tad strong. Plus, with Orlando having some trouble playing through a very intense press, and wanting to protect Joao Moutinho — playing his first 90-minute match in nine months — Oscar Pareja simply decided to play defensively and protect what the team had by changing shape and bringing on Robin Jansson. Soccer is a tactical game, and tactical maneuvering during a match is par for the course. Regardless, all’s well that ends well!

Paramount+ Picks Up Brazilian, Argentinan Leagues

It has been announced that Paramount+ has picked up the rights to top flight soccer in Brazil and Argentina. The streaming service will have the exclusive English-language rights to Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileirão Série A, the country’s top flight league. It will also carry matches from Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Futbol. Full coverage of the Brazil’s Serie A starts on May 29. There are some big ticket matches to kick off the 2021 season too, with Flamengo taking on Palmeiras and Sao Paulo facing off against Fluminese. If you happen to already have Paramount+ it might be worth keeping an eye on the league, considering Orlando has a history of signing players from the Brazilian top flight. Oh, and Argentina too!

Free Kicks
  • This is very cool, and a massive congratulations to the young woman involved.
  • Orlando City’s Wilfredo Rivera has been called up for Puerto Rico’s second round of qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.
  • While it won’t help you now, this tweet made me laugh.

That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.