It’s a special Saturday, Mane Landers, as we celebrate midfielder Servando Carrasco’s 28th birthday. Servando is getting a surprise present as his wife, Alex Morgan, will be home from Rio slightly earlier than expected. Hopefully the team can secure him three points in Chicago as a slightly happier gift. Happy birthday from everyone at The Mane Land, Servando!
Now, on to today's links.
OCB Winless Streak Ends at New York Red Bulls II
It was an historic match for the USL with a test run for the video assistant referee (VAR) system, though it didn’t help Conor Donovan, as it helped send him off late in the first half and Orlando City B was run over, 5-1 at Red Bull Arena. It wasn’t the only ejection of the match, as Kyle Callan-McFadden saw red after a secon yellow near the end of the match. You can catch our recap of the match, courtesy of Sean Rollins. It’s nice to see Harrison Heath back on his feet and getting playing time and so many academy products on the bench, even if the result wasn’t even close to favorable.
Kaká Talks Learning Curve
Jason Kreis has only been in charge of Orlando City for two competitive matches and the results have been polar opposites. Kaká spoke with Simon Veness of MLSSoccer.com about the transitional period the team is currently going through as the Lions get accustomed to their new gaffer’s ideology. The fitness demands have increased and repetition has been the focal point during training sessions. Kaká, who is no stranger to coaching changes, says that this is just a natural part of the process and will make the team better in the end. The important thing is that the Brazilian doesn’t believe immediate results will doom them from playoff contention.
Bendik Does it Again
With an overwhelming 93% of the final vote, Joe Bendik took home his fourth Save of the Week in a row. His kick save on Sounders phenom Jordan Morris saved the Lions from an even uglier defeat. Bendik, who has been the lone bright spot of Orlando City’s defense, has had a sparkling campaign and it’s rough to see him put into as many two-on-one scenarios against good finishers. But Bendik may not have even had the best save of the match, Orlando’s left goal post managed to deny Nelson Valdez twice.
U.S. Crashes Out of Olympics
It ended in a heartbreaking penalty shootout against Sweden for the Americans and their time in Rio is over. Orlando Pride captain Alex Morgan had the equalizer in the secon half to get the U.S. back in the match, but her penalty was saved in the shootout and that coupled with a miss by Christen Press sealed the USWNT’s fate. Morgan did everything she could in regulation and extra time to get the winner but she couldn’t buy a second goal. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had some choice words about the Swedes after the upset that won’t win her many supporters. Morgan and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will now head home to Orlando to link back up with the Pride.
Steph Catley and Laura Alleway will be joining the American contingent and returning to Orlando. The Australians and Brazilians went to extra time like the Yanks and Swedes after a scoreless 120 minutes (regulation plus extra time). Then they went into sudden death penalties, with Brazil advancing after the eighth shooter for each team. Alleway and Monica from the Pride both slotted home their spot kicks. The bad news for Pride fans is that Catley left the game early for the Matildas with an injury. We hope it's nothing serious. Meanwhile, Monica rolls into the medal round.
Josee Belanger won’t be returning to Florida any time soon as Canada defeated a very good France side 1-0. Belanger came on as a substitute in the second half, but a yellow card late in the match means she will be suspended for the semifinal. She’ll be back in the next round and will have a chance to play for a medal whether her teammates win or lose their semifinal match.
Messi Comes Out of Retirement
Lionel Messi made headlines following the Copa America when he and several other key members of the Argentinean team unexpectedly retired from international play. It was a short time off for the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, as he announced that he’s accepted a call-up for Argentina for next month’s matches. In the press release, Messi admitted that he wants to help reform the Argentinean squad from the inside.
Those are your important links for today, Mane Landers. Be sure to check back in tomorrow for all of our regular coverage as the Lions take on the Chicago Fire in an important Eastern Conference match-up.