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Lion Links: 2/27/22

Luiz Muzzi and Oscar Pareja discuss expectations, national writers predict MLS Cup for Orlando, MLS regular season gets underway, and more.

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Orlando City SC v FC Dallas Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

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.”

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.

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.

Free Kicks

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!