Hello, Mane Landers. I can’t believe we’re at the end of June and halfway through 2021. I hope you all are doing well down in Florida. I miss you guys up here in the Windy City. It’s been feeling a bit like Florida up here with plenty of rainy weather over the past week. Let’s get to the links!
Orlando City Prepares for the New York Red Bulls
The Lions are currently on a three-game winning streak and have won five out of their last six matches. The Lions will host the New York Red Bulls this Saturday as they try to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium and you can watch the game on FOX 35 Plus or stream it on the LionNation TV app. The Red Bulls are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and six different players have scored goals for them in recent matches. They also picked up their fourth clean sheet this season after a 0-0 draw with Atlanta United.
The Lions’ only loss this season came on the road against the Red Bulls on May 29, losing 2-1. At that time, Nani was suspended, several players were injured, and Daryl Dike was with the United States Men’s National Team. Nani and Dike should suit up this weekend as they look to keep the Lions’ win streak going. More reinforcements are coming for the Lions in the near future as well, with center back Rodrigo Schlegel returning to the team and forward Alexandre Pato progressing in his recovery.
Notes from training: Defender Rodrigo Schlegel is back to training in Orlando with the team.— Julia Poe (@byjuliapoe) June 29, 2021
Pato is also involved in contact drills this morning. Not full speed but looks confident and reactive when changing directions.
Ali Riley Gets Ready to Captain New Zealand
The upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be the first time Orlando Pride defender Ali Riley rejoins her New Zealand teammates since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. Unlike other national teams, New Zealand has not played exhibition matches leading up to the Olympics. As a result, Riley has had to prepare for her role as New Zealand’s captain while playing with the Pride in Orlando.
“I’m definitely in a unique position not having any preparation with the national team,” Riley said. “But I know with full confidence that being here is the best place I can be if I’m not going to be with my national team in terms of preparing.”
New Zealand’s first match will be against Australia on July 21 in a group that also includes the United States and Sweden. The group stage scheduling will be similar to the Pride’s recent stretch of play where they played three games in seven days. In those matches, Riley played in all of them, starting twice, as she got some more familiarity with playing multiple matches in a week.
Orlando City’s U-17 Team Advances
Orlando’s U-17 squad won 2-1 against the LA Galaxy in the MLS NEXT Cup quarterfinals. Orlando’s Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas scored from an unreal angle to give the Lions a 2-0 lead in a goal that has to be seen to be believed.
The Young Lions have had an impressive run in the tournament, dispatching the New England Revolution and Shattuck St. Mary’s in earlier rounds. The team will now face the Sacramento Republic in the semifinals tomorrow night at 9:05 p.m. You can also check out the full highlights from Orlando’s win over the Galaxy below.
Euro 2020 Quarterfinals Are Set
After a scoreless first half, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling both scored to lift England to a 2-0 win over Germany. England fans went wild after the Three Lions won a Euro knockout stage game for the first time since 1996. For Joachim Low, his run as Germany’s manager is over after 15 years. Germany will need to retool its roster before the UEFA World Cup qualifiers starting up again in September.
In the later match-up, Sweden had its hands full as it was beaten 2-1 by Ukraine in extra time. Artem Dovbyk scored the second-latest goal in European championship history to propel Ukraine to the quarterfinals for the first time.
The next pair of matches will begin on Friday when Switzerland plays Spain at noon before Belgium faces Italy at 3 p.m. On Saturday, the Czech Republic takes on Denmark at noon and England plays Ukraine at 3 p.m.
- The Lions moved up to third in the league’s power rankings, now sitting behind the Seattle Sounders and the New England Revolution.
- Orlando’s Dike and right back Michael Halliday were both noted as young MLS players who did well this past week.
- The MLS All-Star Skills Challenge will return this year and is set to take place on Aug. 24, the day before the MLS All-Star Game. LAFC’s Carlos Vela and the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez are the only confirmed names for the challenge at this time, but Nani is sure to be a strong candidate considering his performance in the event back in 2019.
- Former Lion Hadji Barry scored four goals across two matches this week for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and was voted USL Championship Player of the Week.
- USMNT winger Konrad de la Fuente is leaving FC Barcelona and will sign a four-year contract with Marseille.
- The U.S. Soccer Federation announced its “One Nation” initiatives as part of its efforts to increase community engagement and uplift underserved areas while the USWNT prepares for the Olympics.
- The San Jose Earthquakes have parted ways with General Manager Jesse Fioranelli.
- The Netherlands and manager Frank de Boer have agreed to part ways after their shocking loss to the Czech Republic in the knockout stages.
That will do it for me, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday, take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you next time.