Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/15/22



Happy Saturday, Mane Landers. It is playoff-eve for fans of the Lions. Have the nerves started to kick in yet? Are you staying calm, cool, and collected? I don’t know about you, but I have an optimistic outlook that Orlando will do just enough to take this match to spot kicks and ultimately walk into the next round behind a breathtaking El Pulpo performance. Maybe I’m a bit delusional, but after witnessing these Lions fight back to get into the playoffs I find it hard to believe they won’t do it again.

Before we head into the links, let’s all give a round of applause and thanks to City’s original captain and one who helped build this team’s backbone of hard work, grit, and grind attitude — Kaká. Today marks five years since his final match. Now, the links!

Orlando City Ready for Round One

Orlando City is heading to Stade Saputo to battle Eastern Conference regular-season runner-up CF Montréal in Round 1 of the 2022 MLS Cup playoffs tomorrow. The match is set to kick off at 8 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN for those of us not traveling across the Canadian border. Sunday marks the start of the Lions’ third-consecutive appearance in the MLS Cup playoffs, all of which have come under Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s tenure. 

“We are in October already and looking to have a good match at this time after the achievement of qualifying with this group,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “I think it is even more important to think about advancing and that is where we are now. The group is very optimistic and very confident going to Montréal and fighting for our ticket to the next round.”

The Lions have won two of their last three meetings with CF Montréal, including a 2-0 victory at Exploria Stadium in the 2022 season opener. Orlando City also defeated CF Montréal on Decision Day in 2021 by way of a 2-0 scoreline to clinch a spot in the 2021 MLS Cup playoffs. In the two sides’ most recent match-up in May, CF Montréal earned a 4-1 victory at home. Should the Lions win tomorrow, they will play the winner of New York City FC and Inter Miami CF in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Oct. 23.

All Eyes on Torres

Orlando City winger Facundo Torres was one of many of the under-23 standouts to consistently be recognized throughout the 2022 regular season. With nine goals and 10 assists, he has been one of the most potent parts of the Orlando attack this season. While few pundits are giving Orlando City much of a chance in their first-round visit to CF Montréal on Sunday evening, Torres will be key in the upset if it were to happen.

On the opposite side of the ball, CF Montréal midfielder Ismaël Koné is a young central midfielder who turned 20 in June and has already notched 1,587 league minutes. He has been turning heads down the stretch, boasting a stat line of two goals and five assists, an 86.3% pass completion rate, 58 accurate long balls, and 11 key passes.

U-17 Women’s World Cup Results

The United States Under-17 Women’s National Team tied Brazil 1-1 in its second group stage match of the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. A goal from forward Nicollette Kiorpes earned the United States a valuable point. With the result, the United States is now on top of Group A. While the Yanks are level with Brazil on four points, the United States holds a large lead in the goal-differential tiebreaker of +8. The U.S. will conclude Group A play Monday against Morocco at 10:30 a.m.

If not for Brazilian goalkeeper Leilane and her six saves, the United States would have walked away with a comfortable win. The young Americans were clearly the better team for a large portion of the match, stringing together quick sequences of passes all over the field and creating dangerous chances. The Americans fired 19 shots to Brazil’s 14, but many of Brazil’s attempts came from distance. The United States also struggled to make the most of its set pieces and none of the team’s seven corner kicks found a way into the back of the net.

2023 Concacaf Champions League

The 2023 Concacaf Champions League will begin next March with Round of 16 games. Orlando City is already one of the team’s guaranteed a spot in the competition. The last slot to be claimed will be determined on Nov. 5 after MLS Cup is held. If the 2022 MLS Cup champion is a Canadian club or a club that has already qualified for the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, then the slot will be awarded to Austin FC as the highest-ranked U.S.-based club not already qualified according to the 2022 MLS Supporters Shield standings.

The 16-team tournament features two-legged matchups at each stage. The tournament is set to conclude with the final’s second leg on June 4. The overall winner will represent Concacaf at the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. The first legs of the Round of 16 will be played March 7-9, followed by the second legs March 14-16. The quarterfinals will then resume April 4-6 and have their second legs completed within April 11-13. For the semifinals, matches will be played April 25-27 and second legs May 2-4. The culmination of the tournament and finals matches will be played on May 31 and June 4.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to get all those errands and chores completed today. Tomorrow is all about the Lions and MLS Cup playoffs. Vamos Orlando!


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