The long wait is over. Orlando City hosts CF Montréal today at Exploria Stadium to open its 2022 campaign. I hope you enjoy it from wherever you’ll be watching or listening. Let’s first check out today’s links.
Muzzi and Pareja Expectant and Optimistic
Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and Head Coach Oscar Pareja have expressed optimism throughout the preseason and in this story by the Orlando Sentinel published on the eve of the season opener, the club’s two faces of soccer operations talked about the season ahead.
“As coaches, we always expect more as somebody who’s working on assembling the team and trying to put a team together,” Muzzi said. “We always expect more. We always expect to win.”
“Gluing the players is not an easy task, and it doesn’t come immediately,” Pareja added. “But they’re doing a great effort on making that happen. So I’m very optimistic.”
Lions Impress National Writers
The eight-man staff at The Athletic’s soccer desk published its MLS season guide Saturday and Orlando City received some love from certain corners. Editor Alexander Abnos picked the Lions to win the Supporters Shield, while writers Felipe Cárdenas and Paul Tenorio chose Orlando City to win the MLS Cup, with Cárdenas saying the Lions “will shock MLS.”
Unlocked MLS season guide: Predictions for MLS Cup, MVP, Golden Boot and how to watch— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) February 26, 2022
My picks are in
“_______ will shock MLS” this season. https://t.co/Oav18sqYOr
Let’s see if the Lions can reward their belief with a strong 2022 season that begins this afternoon at 1 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.
MLS Season Gets Underway
Carlos Vela bagged a hat trick to lead LAFC past Colorado, 3-0, in Steve Cherendulo’s first game as the Angelenos’ head coach.
Carlos Vela delivers a hat trick within 50 minutes! pic.twitter.com/I3I7kuT1jG— Major League Soccer (@MLS) February 26, 2022
In other MLS action, Cecilio Dominguez scored twice as Austin FC pounded FC Cincinnati, 5-0, the Columbus Crew blanked the Vancouver Whitecaps, 4-0, and Charlotte FC was shut out in its league debut by D.C. United. Robin Lod scored the first goal in MLS in 2022 but the Philadelphia Union came back to draw 1-1 with Minnesota United. FC Dallas and Toronto FC also drew 1-1, with Portland and New England playing to a 2-2 draw, and Inter Miami and the Chicago Fire getting the first 0-0 draw in the league this season. The New York Red Bulls traveled to San Jose and will bring all three points home after a 3-1 win.
Soccer’s Reaction to Ukraine Invasion Continues
Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues to impact global football in myriad ways. Chelsea’s Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, handed control of the club to trustees of Chelsea’s charitable foundation. Poland and Sweden both announced they would boycott World Cup play-in games against Russia. Everton and Manchester City players showed their support of Ukraine’s people and Ukrainian teammates before their match yesterday.
Emotional scenes at Goodison Park as Everton and Manchester City unite to show their support to Ukraine pic.twitter.com/1SBDZEwr18— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 26, 2022
- Christian Eriksen returned to competitive soccer for the first time since suffering cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
- Neither Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel or Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp has won a domestic cup in English football. That will change after their Chelsea and Liverpool sides meet in today’s Carabao Cup final at London’s Wembley Stadium.
- Sevilla and Real Betis clash in today’s “El Gran Derbi”, a rivalry ESPN’s Sid Lowe labels La Liga’s best.
- Marcelo Bielsa will reportedly leave Leeds with the club close to appointing American Jesse Marsch as his replacement.
- Thanks to its U-15 and U-17 academy squads, Orlando City has already secured six points over CF Montréal this weekend.
What winning looks like after our U15 and U17 Academy teams brought the and defeated @academiecfm today at home. Hoping for the same result for the first team tomorrow! #VamosOrlando #mlsnext #thefutureispurple #OrlandoCity pic.twitter.com/7v9Zd7iyjt— OrlandoCitySC Academy Unofficial (@OrlandoCitySCA) February 26, 2022
Orlando City head groundskeeper Bill Hoffer tweeted this photo of an empty Exploria. I can’t wait to be among the City faithful there today. Vamos Orlando!