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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Orlando City continued the 2023 MLS Regular Season campaign with a 0-0 draw against visiting FC Cincinnati. Orlando City rolled out a heavily rotated squad for the match against the Orange and Blue ahead of the first leg of the club’s Concacaf Champions League match-up Tuesday at Tigres. Let’s take a look at how each Lion performed individually in week two.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 (MotM) — Gallese made four saves to earn his second clean sheet of the season and to help salvage one point at home. Facing a trio of dangerous attackers, Gallese did well to save four shots on the night in a myriad of different ways. His best save of the night came in the 29th minute on a Luciano Acosta free kick from just outside the box. He was successful on 80.8% of his passing attempts, including six long balls. On a night when there was very little help on the offensive side of the pitch and the visitors controlled the possession for a majority of the match, El Pulpo came up big when the club needed him most.

D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith was inserted into the starting XI at left center back for the first half as Oscar Pareja played a three-man back line for the opening 45 minutes. He then played fullback when Robin Jansson came on to start the second half, departing when Luca Petrasso was brought on as the final substitute of the night for OCSC. Turning in a performance that one has come to expect from Smith isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there were several times when Smith found himself beaten down the sideline. To his credit, he was often able to recover, but he did get burned badly by Luciano Acosta in the 54th minute and luckily watched the shot go wide. Smith passed at 82.7%, was accurate with two of three long balls, and was responsible for one turnover. He did not attempt a shot but did provide one key pass. He also recorded three tackles, one interception, and two clearances and won 33% of his headed duels.

D, Abdi Salim, 5.5 — MLS SuperDraft pick Salim logged his first official MLS start, going the full 90 minutes. It was a bit of a mixed bag debut for the young draft pick who started with Smith and Rodrigo Schlegel as one of the three center backs. After the break, he played a more traditional center back role on the right, paired with Jansson. A little inconsistency is to be expected from a rookie when facing a team with the attacking options that FC Cincinnati has, and at times Salim seemed to be caught off guard and out of position by the pace and explosiveness of Cincinnati’s attackers. He recorded two tackles, a team-high three interceptions, and a clearance. He passed at 87% on the night, completed his lone long ball attempt, and was responsible for one turnover.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — With an injured Antonio Carlos and a starting squad with heavy rotation, Schlegel functioned as the de facto leader of the back line in the first half and was mostly solid in his 45 minutes on the pitch. Passing at a 93% rate in the first half, Schlegel was a stead force and logged his second straight match without recording a foul. He did not record any defensive statistics but had one off-target shot attempt and completed one of his two long-ball attempts.

WB/D, Michael Halliday, 6 — Halliday logged his second straight start at right back (more of a wingback for the opening 45 minutes) and continued to show growth and development. He logged 71 minutes and his brightest moment was running onto a laser of a pass from Robin Jansson in the second half and then laying a pass off for Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, who put his shot attempt just above the bar for one of the best scoring chances of the night. At times, Halliday was caught up field and out of position, which is part of playing wingback — especially against a good transition team like Cincinnati — but he looked more comfortable than last week. Halliday logged one interception and committed one foul while passing at an 83% clip. He did not record an accurate cross on one attempt and was inaccurate with his one long ball. He finished with a team-high four tackles, an interception, and two clearances.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — It wasn’t a perfect night for the defensive midfielder who was inserted into the starting lineup to provide rotation and rest for Ceasar Arajuo. While Cartagena passed at a decent 88% on the night, going 0/1 on crosses and 1/2 on long balls. He had a few too many careless giveaways or simply inaccurate passes which prevented the Lions from breaking out of their own end. He was booked for a questionable yellow in the 28th minute and was successful on two of his four tackle attempts. Cartagena also recorded one interception and logged two clearances.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5 — The Orlando City captain logged his 100th competitive match in purple across all competitions, but the century mark match proved to be one of Pereyra’s shakier games in recent memory. The Uruguayan passed at an abysmal 74% success rate (his lowest percentage since Aug. 13. of last season against the New York Red Bulls). He recorded no key passes and was 0/1 on crosses and 3/5 on long balls. He had two shot attempts on the night, which were both blocked, including a poor attempt on a dangerous free kick chance in the 14th minute, and was only successful on one of his five tackle attempts. Ultimately, this will be a match to forget for a handful of reasons and Pereyra’s first-half effort will be among that list. The captain was subbed off at halftime for Araujo.

WB/MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Another Lion logging his first official MLS start, Dagur Dan went the distance for Orlando City in the midfield, playing out on the left and switching spots with Gaston Gonzalez often. The Icelandic midfielder passed at an 86% success rate, was inaccurate on his one cross attempt but completed his only long ball. Thorhallsson was dispossessed twice and could have done better on his one shot attempt, which sailed over the bar. He drew one foul, recorded two successful dribbles, and logged two tackles.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez, 5.5— Orlando City fans were able to see Gonzalez in action for the first time as the MLS U22 Initiative signing from last season has finally rehabbed from an ACL tear. Any fitness concerns should be squelched as Gonzalez went the full 90 for Orlando City in his debut match. He connected on 19 of his 21 passing attempts for a 90% success rate, however, he was just 1/3 on crosses and did not complete his only long ball. Gonzalez committed three fouls, and won Orlando City one corner but otherwise did not log too many other meaningful stats in his inaugural match, although he had one clearance defensively. There were attempts at breaking down opponents 1-v-1, but it appears for now Gonzalez needs more time to develop chemistry with his teammates and more game time to get back to his former self, as he attempted no shots, provided no key passes, was dispossessed once, and had three unstable touches.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — It felt like watching the game live that for most of the first half, Orlando City could have done a better job at trying to find Torres in space. The Young Designated Player — and the offense as a whole — struggled for the second straight game. Torres only logged one shot, which was off target, and only recorded 47 total touches for the match. He passed at a 78.6% rate on 28 attempts, providing two key passes and went 1/2 on crosses and completede his only long ball. Torres was dispossessed once, had one unstable touch, and completed three of five total attempted dribbles, but again there seemed to be some disconnect in the attacking third. The attack needs work and Orlando City needs Torres to be a catalyst to get in back in gear. Defensively, Torres supplied one interception and one clearance.

F, Ercan Kara, 4.5 — Stop me if you have heard this one before, but Kara needs accurate service to be the most effective version of himself, and for the second match in a row Orlando City struggled to get the striker involved. Some of that is a credit to 6-foot-4 center back Matt Miazga’s play for FC Cincinnati. Kara recorded only 17 touches in the match, showing how starved for service the Lions’ center forward was on the night. His isolation limited him to 46.2% passing as he struggled to find teammates in traffic. He won two aerials but recorded no shots or key passes in 65 minutes of gameplay before being subbed off for Ivan Angulo. Defensively, he contributed a blocked shot.

Substitutes

D, Robin Jansson (46’), 6 — Coming out of the halftime break, Jansson replaced Schlegel as the team transitioned to a more traditional four-man back line. After a shaky debut match last week, Jansson seemed more settled and had the best long ball out of any player on the pitch when he sprung Halliday down the right side of the field, ultimately resulting in an open look for Dagur Dan. He passed at a 79% success rate, completed three of six long balls, won one aerial duel, and did not record a tackle but did log a vital blocked shot near the end of the match and finished with two clearances.

MF, Cesar Araujo (46’), 6.5 — Out of the starting lineup presumably to remain fresher for the upcoming trip to Mexico, Araujo entered the match after the break and demonstrated much better form than in the season opener. Araujo passed at a 91% clip in the second half and was successful on both of his attempted long balls and his one through ball. Defensively, Araujo drew two fouls on Cincinnati, recorded one successful tackle, and added an interception. Towards the end of the match, Araujo could be found drifting more into the attacking third of the match where he was credited with one shot attempt and had the Lions’ only shot on target of the evening, albeit a weak dribbler that offered no trouble to Roman Celentano. While the offense figures out that the ball is supposed to go in the back of the net, it will be imperative that Araujo continues to lock down force in the defensive midfield.

MF, Martín Ojeda (60’), 5.5 — Ojeda entered the game in the 60th minute to relieve Torres and recorded one shot in the 79th minute which was a scorcher that missed the target high and left from outside the 18 as he tried to catch Celentano off his line. He was accurate on 85.7% of his 21 passing attempts and his only long ball but his one cross attempt did not find the target. He contributed one interception. Due to player rotation in this match, very little was accomplished in terms of gaining experience and building chemistry between the three Designated Players as Ojeda replaced Torres, and Kara was subbed off five minutes after Ojeda entered the field.

MF, Ivan Angulo (65’), 5.5 — Angulo replaced Kara in the 65th minute and was largely ineffective for the final 25 minutes of the match, He was dispossessed twice, completed 86% of his passes, and did not record a shot attempt. He finished with one tackle and just 15 total touches.

D, Luca Petrasso (71’), 6 — Petrasso came into the match in the 71st minute for Halliday, which sent Kyle Smith to the right side of the pitch. There was some early aggression and concentrated efforts to get into the attacking third from Petrasso but he failed on a few occasions to link up with teammates or to send the ball into the box. He passed at 85.7%, but his only cross attempt was inaccurate. He did not record a tackle, interception, or shot attempt.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in the first draw of the season for the Lions. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Rodrigo Schlegel11
Robin Jansson17
Dagur Dan Thorhallsson1
Pedro Gallese139
Cesar Araujo1
Someone Else (tell us in the comments)1

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions meet the Herons in the first Tropic Thunder battle of 2024.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday afternoon Tropic Thunder matchup between Orlando City and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF at Chase Stadium (4:30 p.m., FOX, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). It’s the first of two scheduled meetings between the sides this season with the return leg in Orlando set for Wednesday, May 15. It is the only scheduled meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

Orlando City is 5-4-4 in the series in all competitions, 2-3-0 on the road in the MLS regular season, and 2-4-0 away in all competitions. The most recent meeting resulted in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on Sept. 24, 2023. Duncan McGuire brought Orlando back from a 1-0 deficit after David Ruiz had given the Herons a 1-0 lead early in the second half.

The most recent meeting in South Florida took place on Aug. 2 of last year in Leagues Cup action. The Herons were fortunate to not see Lionel Messi sent off with a second yellow late in the first half and even more fortunate to get a soft penalty call on Antonio Carlos as they won, 3-1. Messi opened the scoring after being ignored in the box early. Cesar Araujo made up for his uncharacteristic defensive lapse by scoring 10 minutes later. Josef Martinez put Miami back on top with the Downy-soft penalty just after halftime and Messi sunk in the dagger in the final 20 minutes.

The teams also met in Fort Lauderdale in MLS play on May 20, 2023, with Orlando City winning, 3-1. Ercan Kara’s early goal was canceled out by Leonardo Campana shortly before the hour mark, but Martin Ojeda and Rafael Santos found the net in the second half to power the Lions.

Inter Miami won at home, 4-1, on Oct. 5, 2022. Campana scored in the game’s first minute and Orlando City never settled in. Gonzalo Higuain added two goals — one from the spot — and Ariel Lassiter also scored before Kara pulled one back to spoil the shutout.

The first regular-season meeting of 2022 resulted in a 1-0 Orlando City win at Exploria Stadium on July 9, as a stoppage-time own goal by Damion Lowe was the difference between the Lions earning just one point or all three. The ball was sent into the box by Jake Mulraney.

The teams also met at Exploria Stadium on May 25, 2022 in U.S. Open Cup action, with the two sides needing extra time after a scoreless 90 minutes. In extra time, Miami got a goal from Jean Mota against the run of play, but Facundo Torres quickly equalized for Orlando. The match ended 1-1 and Orlando won the ensuing penalty shootout, 4-2. Bryce Duke was denied by Mason Stajduhar and DeAndre Yedlin missed the net during the spot kicks, while all four Orlando shooters scored.

The intrastate rivals played to a scoreless draw in Orlando on Aug. 27, 2021. Tesho Akindele missed a penalty in the match, but the Lions had several other good opportunities to score (but didn’t) in a wasteful performance. Orlando and Miami battled to a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 4, 2021. Carlos scored in first-half stoppage time but was knocked into concussion protocol on the play by Kelvin Leerdam. Kieran Gibbs equalized in the 66th minute on a header in front of a less-than-attentive Ruan. Akindele had a goal called back after video review for being offside and the teams split the points. Earlier in the season, the Lions came from behind in Fort Lauderdale to win 2-1 on a pair of brilliant goals by Chris Mueller and Nani on June 25, 2021.

In the final meeting of 2020, the Lions saw their 12-match unbeaten streak end on Oct. 24 in a 2-1 road loss in Fort Lauderdale. Miami defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s header in the 89th minute was the difference after a Daryl Dike goal and an own goal off Robin Jansson saw the game tied up at halftime. The teams met in Orlando on Sept. 12, 2020 with Orlando battling to a 2-1 win on Mauricio Pereyra’s goal. The Lions had taken the lead on an own goal by Andres Reyes. Former Lion Brek Shea tied things up in the 65th, before Pereyra answered with a nice goal off the left post in the 69th minute.

The first meeting in Fort Lauderdale opened Phase 1 of Major League Soccer’s return to regular-season play after the MLS is Back Tournament. That one was an uncharacteristically sloppy match for the Lions, who fell 3-2 in Inter Miami’s first-ever home match. It was Miami’s first franchise win after an 0-5-0 start. Orlando trailed by more than one goal for the first time all season in that game. Dike and Nani provided the offense for Orlando, but Julian Carranza’s brace and Rodolfo Pizarro’s insurance goal were enough to lift the Herons.

The first Tropic Thunder match went Orlando City’s way, with Nani scoring late to lift the Lions to a 2-1 win over the upstarts from South Florida in the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament. Despite it being a tournament match, it was also a league game. Juan Agudelo opened the scoring for the Herons, but Mueller equalized, setting the stage for Nani’s 97th-minute winner.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a 3-1 win over Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC Tuesday. That victory gave Orlando City a 6-1 aggregate score across two legs and the Lions advanced to the Round of 16 in Concacaf Champions Cup. Despite heavy rotation, Orlando got goals from Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, and Kyle Smith to advance.

Orlando City last played in a regular-season match a week ago at home against CF Montreal, drawing 0-0. Tonight’s match represents Orlando’s first road game of the 2024 MLS season.

Inter Miami is coming off a 1-1 draw on the road against the LA Galaxy last Sunday. The Herons (stop me if you’ve heard this before) got an enormous break when Mark Delgado was sent off with a second yellow in the 87th minute. Messi scored five minutes later against the shorthanded Galaxy and Miami claimed a point. Delgado’s second yellow was, of course, overturned unanimously by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, but the damage has been done.

The Herons are 1-0-0 at home, having dispatched Real Salt Lake 2-0 in Inter Miami’s home opener Feb. 21.

Miami is one of the favorites in 2024 and is playing confidently under Gerardo Martino and is one of the league’s heavy favorites to win MLS Cup. The Lions must do what they can to limit Messi’s involvement as much as possible. Miami’s attack is formidable enough that it helps the team’s defense, as it is often difficult to dispossess the Herons and maintain extended spells of possession long enough to get at Inter Miami’s back line. That’s exactly what the Lions love to do, so today’s match will be an interesting battle of wills.

It’s a rivalry game, so anything can happen. History suggests it’ll be tight.

“We’re very optimistic after advancing in the Champions Cup and in the performance that we had (at home) in the opener,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “We’re very confident to keep going in this journey. I know we’ll be busy in the next few weeks, but the boys are ready. We’re ready to compete. Now, we’re refocusing on going to Miami, the first time against our rival and getting a result there. Then we’ll think about the game on Tuesday (against Tigres), but first is focusing on our next rival. We already have our feedback, already have our reviews in, but now we’re ready.”

The Lions don’t have any players listed on the team’s availabilitly report. Miami will be without Benjamin Cremaschi (sports hernia), Facundo Farias (knee), Ian Fray (knee), Franco Negri (knee), and Robbie Robinson (medical evaluation), while Ryan Sailor (oblique) is questionable.

Match Content


Official Lineups:

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, David Brekalo, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, Luis Muriel.

Inter Miami (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Drake Callender.

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Tomas Aviles, Nicolas Freire, DeAndre Yedlin.

Midfielders: Diego Gomez, Sergio Busquets, Julian Gressel.

Forwards: Robert Taylor, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi.

Bench: CJ dos Santos, Ryan Sailor, Sergii Kryvtsov, Shanyder Borgelin, Jean Mota, Lawson Sunderland, David Ruiz, Noah Allen, Leonardo Campana.

Referees:

REF: Jaime Herrera.
AR1: Bruno Rizo.
AR2: Regis Cardoso.
4TH: Ivan Cid Cruz.
VAR: Sandro Ricci.
AVAR: TBA.


How to Watch

Match Time: 4:30 p.m.

Venue: Chase Stadium — Fort Lauderdale.

TV/Live Stream: FOX, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Orlando City

Luis Muriel Flashed Playmaking Ability vs. Cavalry FC

Luis Muriel showed signs of what he can do with a strong performance in his Orlando City debut.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Luis Muriel is the newest man to wear the no. 9 shirt for Orlando City, taking over for Ercan Kara after the big Austrian left the City Beautiful for the Turkish top flight last summer. Muriel arrived just before the season officially got underway, and we had to wait until the third game of the year against Cavalry FC to see him take the field, as the necessary paperwork had to be completed first.

Once he was on the field, he was a joy to watch. While Cavalry isn’t the toughest opposition that OCSC will face this year, the Canadians (et al) aren’t slouches either, and the Colombian gave them all sorts of trouble as soon as the game got underway. With 14 minutes gone, he directed a header on target, and moments later he broke through the defense with a great run, and only last-gasp closing down from two defenders and an excellent save from Marco Carducci denied him a goal on his debut. He also fizzed a dangerous shot just outside the post with a little under 30 minutes played, continuing his high level of involvement to start the match.

He wasn’t limited to just taking shots though. When Muriel’s signing was announced, Luiz Muzzi went out of his way to highlight the striker’s “…ability to combine with and make his teammates better.” That’s something that we got to see quite a bit of on Tuesday night, as the no. 9 repeatedly dropped into the midfield in search of the ball, showing up as far back as the defensive midfielders at times. Doing so pulled Cavalry players out of position, opened up space in the center, and made it easier for him to either connect with teammates or drive at the defense once he had collected the ball. He spoke after the game about how he liked to go find the ball and get into unexpected areas, and he certainly did a lot of that.

Muriel’s playmaking chops eventually paid dividends on the scoreboard when the Lions grabbed the opening goal of the game. He collected the ball on the right side of the box, and cut onto his left foot where he could have had a shot at goal. Instead, he picked his head up and squared a perfect ball for Nico Lodiero at the top of the 18-yard box, who made it look easy as he hit the well-weighted ball first time and put it off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net.

If you did your research, you had a pretty good idea of what the Lions would be getting when they signed the Colombian international to a three-year deal. Per FBref.com, in the last year, Muriel is in the 99th percentile for passes attempted per 90, progressive passes per 90, expected assisted goals per 90, shot-creating actions per 90, and successful take-ons per 90. He’s in the 98th percentile for shots per 90, and the 86th percentile for non-penalty goals per 90. Those numbers all paint the picture of a forward who scores but is also comfortable as a playmaker, doesn’t hesitate to get his teammates involved, and does so at a high level.

His numbers on Tuesday night only served to reinforce what the scouting told us. Muriel finished with three shots, two of which were on target, and completed 87% of his passes while recording a key pass and an assist — in his first competitive minutes with his new teammates. It was a well-rounded performance that allowed more traditional playmakers like Facundo Torres and Lodeiro to be limited to substitute appearances, helping to preserve their legs at a time when fixture congestion is high.


Tuesday night was a nice preview of what fans can expect when Muriel is on the field. His tendency to go looking for the ball and willingness to bring his teammates into play means that Orlando has the sort of striker that the club hasn’t really had before. It gives the team more options and tactical flexibility, and that’s going to be something to watch as the season continues. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/1/24

Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!

ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today

Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.

USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup

After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.

Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor

The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.

Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years

After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.

“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”

It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.

Free Kicks

  • Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
  • LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
  • The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
  • Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
  • The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
  • The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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