Welcome to July, Mane Landers. It’s only going to get hotter out there so make sure to stay hydrated and cool. I’ve been pretty busy this week so I’m looking forward to kicking back and relaxing a bit. I also discovered earlier this week that adding peanut butter whiskey to a pina colada takes it to another level, so that will be enjoyable as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links!
Looking Ahead to D.C. United
Orlando City will welcome D.C. United to Exploria Stadium on Monday for a Fourth of July match-up. It will be the first of a whopping eight matches in July for the Lions, so hopefully they can start the month off on a strong note. D.C. United will enter this match with over a week of rest after a 3-1 home loss to Nashville SC on June 25. Chilean winger Martin Rodriguez was acquired by D.C. this week but won’t be eligible for Monday’s match and Edison Flores is no longer with the club after his transfer to Liga MX’s Atlas FC. The player Orlando’s defense will have to watch out for is Taxiarchis Fountas, who has six goals and three assists in just nine appearances. It will be a reunion of sorts between Fountas and Orlando forward Ercan Kara as the two were teammates for two years with Rapid Vienna in Austria.
Orlando City U-17 Team Plays Tonight
Orlando’s U-17 squad is on the hunt to defend its MLS NEXT Cup title and will take on the Columbus Crew tonight at 8 p.m. in the semifinals. All of Orlando’s goals during this tournament have come from different scorers and it has only conceded twice so far. The Crew have needed penalty shootouts to get past each of their opponents, giving them some experience if tonight’s match comes down to spot kicks. It should be a good match between the two and the winner will play either LAFC or the Philadelphia Union on Sunday in the final.
U-20 USMNT Takes On Honduras Tonight
The Under-20 United States Men’s National Team has reached the semifinals of the Concacaf U-20 Championship and will play tonight at 9 p.m. against Honduras, the host of the tournament. While the U.S. has already qualified for next year’s World Cup, tonight’s victor will qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics. This is the third straight time a semifinal between the two nations will determine a spot in the Olympics, with Honduras winning the past two such instances. Orlando City defender Michael Halliday is expected to start yet again for the U.S., although it will be without Cade Cowell. The 18-year-old was suspended for three games for violent and unsportsmanlike conduct following the U.S. win over Costa Rica.
Exploring NWSL’s Expansion Options
The National Women’s Soccer League is enjoying a boost in popularity as the women’s game continues to grow all over the world. There are currently 12 teams in the league after San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC both joined this year, but more expansion is on the horizon. While no expansion teams will join the league in 2023, NWSL soccer is expected to return to Utah in the near future and there are plenty of other groups interested in bringing women’s soccer to their city. NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman spoke about how the league must make the most out of expansion to success for both the new team and the league. There are plenty of questions regarding expansion, particularly regarding how an increased number of teams may lead to a diluted player pool and how relocation could be on the table for appealing markets not chosen for expansion.
- An update was provided on how MLS All-Star voting is going. Orlando left back Joao Moutinho and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese are garnering plenty of votes.
- Nashville SC, FC Cincinnati, and Real Salt Lake will all host matches against Liga MX teams in the Leagues Cup Showcase this September.
- Daniel Pereira scored a stunner as Austin FC beat Charlotte FC 1-0 on the road.
- The NWSL will allow 17-year-old midfielder Jaedyn Shaw to join a team despite her age. With European leagues growing, this is a good effort to keep talented young players in the U.S.
- Jordan Pefok is officially in the Bundesliga, joining Union Berlin from BSC Young Boys. It’s a good move for Pefok as he moves into a tougher league and will still get to compete in the Europa League.
- Paris Saint-Germain signed FC Porto midfielder Vitinha to a five-year deal. The 22-year-old joined Porto at age 11 and has featured a few times at the international level for Portugal as well.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend.