How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we get ready for the weekend. I have tomorrow off from work so I’m looking forward to sleeping in, making French toast, and enjoying some reading before Orlando City takes on the Chicago Fire at 1 p.m. But for now, let’s enjoy these links from around the soccer world.
Antonio Carlos Out for Three to Four Months
Orlando City announced that center back Antonio Carlos will not require surgery for a hamstring injury and he will be sidelined for three to four months. Carlos sustained the injury in Orlando’s loss to LAFC this past weekend, exiting the match on a stretcher. It is a tough blow to Orlando’s back line as Carlos may not return to action until August, or possibly even September, but at least he would be available for a playoff push once he returns to game fitness. Rodrigo Schlegel is a solid replacement and will fill in for Carlos, but there’s not much depth at the position beyond 17-year-old Homegrown Player Thomas Williams. Suspensions or further injuries could put Orlando’s defense in a tight spot over the next few months.
Orlando’s Offense Faces a Tough Test Tomorrow
Orlando City’s attack is finding its footing as new players like Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara continue to build chemistry with the team’s other playmakers such as Alexandre Pato, Mauricio Pereyra, and Joao Moutinho. Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston provided analysis on how Orlando’s attack is coming together as the team prepares for its match tomorrow.
Taking on an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time in three weeks so catchup with @EvanLWeston and @migallardo01 on The Roundtable presented by @Ford #DaleMiAmor | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/hS91Kr5ZxS— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 6, 2022
The Fire are one of three MLS teams still undefeated this season, thanks in large part to its defense that has only allowed one goal and 11 shots in five games this season. However, center back and team captain Rafael Czichos is out as he undergoes MLS’s health and safety protocols. Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri is day-to-day due to a calf injury and Fire Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson is exercising caution regarding his return.
“We want to be careful, because he’s a very important player for us,” Hendrickson said. “So, we don’t want to rush that back too soon. We’re monitoring that, and he’s day-to-day right now.”
Shaqiri’s absence would take some of the bite out of a Chicago attack that’s been shut out three times this year, but Polish striker Kacper Przybylko has done well against the Lions in the past.
Orlando City Learns First U.S. Open Cup Opponent Today
With the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup done and dusted, 17 MLS clubs will now join the tournament for the third round and the draw takes place today. Orlando City did well in 2019 as it reached the semifinals in a deep tournament run that included the Running of the Wall as Orlando advanced past New York City FC in a penalty shootout. Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja won the U.S. Open Cup in 2016 with an FC Dallas team that included current Lion Tesho Akindele. He also led Dallas to deep runs in 2017 and 2014, so he knows what it takes to find success in the tournament while also managing regular season games.
Orlando will face a lower-division team in its geographic region as the draw aims to limit travel. The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami FC are the remaining Floridian clubs from lower divisions while Inter Miami joins the action this round as well. There is plenty to play for as the tournament champion qualifies for the 2023 Concacaf Champions League and wins $300,000 in prize money, along with the U.S. Open Cup trophy.
OCB Faces Inter Miami II on Sunday
Orlando City B’s road match with Inter Miami II this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. will be the MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week, meaning viewers can enjoy multiple camera angles during the match. It is the first-ever meeting between the two sides and could be the start of a rivalry between the two Floridian clubs. The season is young, but the Young Lions are undefeated with five points from their first two matches. 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick Jack Lynn has two goals and an assist so far this season, while academy product Javier Otero has made 17 saves in goal, and made two big stops in a penalty shootout against New York City FC II. As for Miami, Romeo Beckham (David Beckham’s 19-year-old son) has three assists and can give Orlando issues from set piece situations. It all sets up for an exciting match in Fort Lauderdale so make sure to tune in and lend your support to the Young Lions.
USWNT Gets Ready for Pair of Friendlies
The United States Women’s National Team will take on Uzbekistan tomorrow and Tuesday in a pair of friendlies to prepare for the Concacaf Women’s Championship this summer. Tomorrow’s match will be the first meeting between the U.S. and Uzbekistan and will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Lower.com Field in Columbus. All but two players on the USWNT’s roster play in the National Women’s Soccer League, with Olympique Lyonnais midfielders Catarina Macario and Lindsey Horan as the exceptions. Uzbekistan is coached by former Japanese player Midori Honda and 19 of the players on its roster play in the domestic league while four play in Turkey. Tuesday’s match will be played at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. at 7 p.m.
Europa League Quarterfinals Get Started
Only eight teams remain in the Europa League as the first legs of the quarterfinals got underway. On the road in Germany against Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Barcelona fell behind early in the second half but Ferran Torres equalized with a nice assist from Frenkie de Jong. A second yellow card to Frankfurt defender Tuta opened the door for Barcelona to push for a win but the game ended 1-1. In London, West Ham United had to play the second half a man down after Aaron Cresswell was shown a red card just before halftime in a 1-1 draw against Lyon. The match between RB Leipzig and Atalanta also ended 1-1, but SC Braga was able to win 1-0 over Rangers FC.
Slavia Prague has quietly been lighting it up in the Europa Conference League. The Czech Republic side has scored at least three goals in each of its games during the knockout stage and that trend continued in a 3-3 draw with Feyenoord, with Prague’s Ibrahim Traore equalizing in stoppage time with a backheel. Elsewhere, AS Roma fell 2-1 on the road to Bodo-Glimt, Leicester City and PSV Eindhoven battled to a scoreless draw in England, and Marseille beat PAOK 2-1 in France, thanks to a stunning goal from Dimitri Payet.
DIMITRI PAYET ARE YOU SERIOUS?!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 7, 2022
ONE OF THE BEST GOALS YOU WILL SEE ALL SEASON. pic.twitter.com/486FHNrNah
- Orlando Pride midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir scored a goal as Iceland’s captain in her team’s 5-0 win over Belarus.
- Seattle Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo’s powerful strike against Minnesota United was named MLS Goal of the Week. Orlando’s Alexandre Pato placed third, with 14.8% of the vote, finishing behind Austin FC’s Maxi Urruti.
- American winger Konrad de la Fuente is unlikely to play for Marseille again this season after a knee injury.
- Carli Lloyd will be an in-studio analyst with FOX Sports for the USWNT’s friendly tomorrow.
- UEFA’s executive committee approved new rules to monitor finances for European clubs, including a “squad cost rule” that will limit spending on salaries and transfers to 70% of a team’s revenue.
- In her first game with Norway in five years, Ada Hegerberg had a hat trick in a World Cup qualifier against Kosovo.
- ESPN’s Bill Connelly used a variety of statistics to rank all 98 teams in Europe’s top five leagues in terms of how entertaining they are to watch. Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Leeds United, Borussia Dortmund, and FC Barcelona are the top five teams to watch according to the metrics.
That’s all I have for you today! Have a great Friday and make sure to stay hydrated out there.