How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a week filled with good soccer and that should continue this weekend with more MLS action. I’ve been busy throughout most of the week, so I’m looking forward to having a drink and watching the games unfold. But for now, let’s enjoy these links from around the soccer world.
Orlando City Aims for Another Clean Sheet
The Lions have yet to concede a goal this season and will look to keep that trend going tomorrow night when they welcome FC Cincinnati to Exploria Stadium. Orlando has never recorded three clean sheets in a row, but that may change tomorrow against a Cincinnati team that hasn’t scored this year. Tomorrow’s match will be goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s 50th appearance across all competitions for Orlando, and another clean sheet will give him sole possession of the club regular-season record. Center back Robin Jansson will also be available for the Lions after missing last week’s road trip to Chicago due to a suspension.
Orlando City Academy Sides Fall and Then Win
Orlando’s U-17 and U-15 squads both fell in close contests to Weston FC last weekend as the U-15 team lost 1-0 while the U-17 team was defeated 2-1. The academy sides shook off their losses as they took on South Florida FC in the second round of matches. Goals from Malik Akin and Antonio Campbell helped the U-15 team win 2-1, while the U-17 team won 4-1 with goals from Johan Chirinos, Ryan Heron, Majed Abdullah, and Favian Loyola. The Young Lions will continue their MLS NEXT seasons throughout the spring and Orlando City B starts its MLS NEXT Pro season on March 26 at Osceola Heritage Park.
U.S. U-20 Women Clinch Spot in 2022 World Cup
The United States Women’s U-20 team won 7-0 against Puerto Rico in the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship semifinals. Forward Simone Jackson came on in the second half and scored a hat trick while Michelle Cooper contributed two goals and an assist. The U.S. has scored 47 goals in its six matches this tournament without conceding once.
With the win, the U.S. claimed its spot in the 2022 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup that will be held in Costa Rica this August. Mexico also booked its ticket to the World Cup after winning 1-0 against Canada in the other semifinal. Tomorrow, the U.S. and Mexico will square off in the final and Puerto Rico and Canada will compete for third place with World Cup qualification still on the line.
Impact of Sanctions on Chelsea
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was one of seven wealthy Russians who were handed sanctions by the British government and had their assets frozen. As a result, Chelsea is prohibited from signing new players or selling new tickets or merchandise. The club is also limited to a spending maximum of $657,000 for each match at Stamford Bridge and there’s also a limit on travel expenses. The news comes as Abramovich was trying to sell the club and club sponsor Three suspended its sponsorship and its logo will be removed from the club’s kits. On the pitch, Chelsea won 3-1 against Norwich City, with Christian Pulisic absent from the team due to illness.
Europa League Action Continues
There were plenty of goals in the first legs of the Europa League’s Round of 16, but none between FC Barcelona and Galatasaray, as they battled to a scoreless draw in Spain in the first leg of their Europa League series. The result extends Barcelona’s undefeated streak to nine games across all competitions, but Galatasaray will just need to win at home in the second leg to advance. Elsewhere, Moroccan forward Munir El Haddadi scored the only goal in Sevilla’s 1-0 victory over West Ham while Atalanta won 3-2 in a back-and-forth match with Bayer Leverkusen. A pair of early goals helped Rangers FC cruise to a 3-0 win against Red Star Belgrade and SC Braga won 2-0 at home against AS Monaco.
In the Europa Conference league, midfielder Sergio Oliveira scored a goal and received two yellow cards in AS Roma’s 1-0 win over Vitesse in the Netherlands. Leicester City hosted Stade Rennes and won 2-0, Arkadiusz Milik had a brace in Marseille’s 2-1 victory over Basel, and Feyenoord scored four goals in the second half to beat Partizan 5-2. But the most exciting game of the day was in Eindhoven as PSV equalized three separate times in a 4-4 draw with FC Copenhagen. PSV winger Cody Gakpo scored the first two equalizers and assisted on the third.
- LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez’s strike that silenced a record crowd in Charlotte was named MLS Goal of the Week, earning 47.4% of the vote. Portland Timbers winger Yimmi Chara’s second bicycle kick in two weeks finished in second with 36.3%.
- Genessis Alarcon, the wife of former Timbers player Andy Polo, stated that two Timbers representatives visited her home to dissuade her from pursuing charges following an alleged incident of domestic violence.
- MLS announced a partnership with the National Black Bank Foundation, leveraging a loan of $25 million and becoming the first sports league to take part in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black banks.
- Nashville SC’s new soccer-specific stadium will be named GEODIS Park.
- After seven seasons with Toronto FC, defender Eriq Zavaleta signed a one-year contract with the Galaxy, reuniting with Head Coach Greg Vanney.
- Of the 20 players called up for the United States U-17 Men’s National Team friendlies next week, 18 are from MLS academies. The team will head to Buenos Aires to take on Argentina on March 15 and then Uruguay on March 18.
- Chivas and Club America are asking fans to wear white to the matches between their men’s and women’s sides this weekend. Coined as a “Clasico without colors,” the rivalry match will be a statement against the violence seen in Liga MX last weekend.
- Speaking of Clasicos, here’s a great breakdown of FC Barcelona‘s and Real Madrid’s women’s teams ahead of their three matches against each other this month.
- This lovely backheel on the volley from Bruno Guimaraes was the winner in Newcastle’s 2-1 victory against Southampton.
- After having a deconstructed cake poured onto him by Junior Urso earlier this week for his birthday, Antonio Carlos returned the favor.
That’s going to be it from me today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend.