Meet Orlando City
Yes, that’s the Nani, the former Manchester United player and Portuguese international. He was superb in the Lions’ 3-1 semifinal win over Minnesota United.
English striker Dom Dwyer, the husband of U.S. women’s striker Sydney Leroux, is out injured. The man up front is Tesho Akindele, from Canada by way of the Colorado School of Mines.
Young American Chris Mueller has three goals in the tournament, as does Nani.
The keeper is Peruvian Pedro Gallese.
Meet the Timbers
The Pacific Northwest team has a lot of South Americans. Argentines Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco are the keys to the attack, and Colombian Diego Chara locks down the midfield.
Their leading scorer in this tournament is French-born American Jeremy Ebobisse with four goals. The Duke Alumni Association would surely want me to mention that he and I both attended that fine institution, though he was there only two years while I was there … six years? Seven? Not sure. They never taught me to count.
Another player of note is left back Jorge Villafaña, the Kelly Clarkson of American soccer. He started his pro career after winning a reality show called Sueño MLS. He played several years with now-defunct Chivas USA, moved to the Timbers, played a couple of years in Mexico with Santos Laguna, then returned to Portland.
And a final bit of trivia — Chara’s midfield partner, Eryk Williamson, is Queen Latifah’s cousin.
The most likely attacking player to enter the fray later is Polish striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda.
As with the NWSL Challenge Cup, this ad hoc tournament had a few hiccups before getting underway. FC Dallas and Nashville SC had to withdraw before the tournament started because of COVID-19 issues. But like the NWSL, MLS has managed to get through its short bubble season.
The next challenge for MLS is a resumption of the regular season, starting … tomorrow night, when FC Dallas hosts Nashville.
Separated by most of the continental USA’s land mass, the Portland Timbers and Orlando City have had contrasting fortunes in MLS.
The Timbers won MLS Cup in 2015 and reached the final in 2018. The expectations of their substantial supporters are always high.
Orlando City has had five years of futility. You could argue that they have “home” advantage here, but the fields have been closed to fans, and Disney World really is its own “world,” anyway.
It’s August 11.
A first-round NHL playoff game is in triple overtime.
College football teams are looking at possible games several months in the future.
And a trophy is at stake in Major League Soccer.
How appropriate that folks in Orlando have marked the occasion with a perfect representation of the rip in the space-time continuum.
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s a look at fans returning to MLS stadiums:
The five-month wait has been hard for Luis Dollar, president of El Matador, an FC Dallas supporters’ group. “Man, not seeing our team out there was brutal,” he said. “We miss our team.”
After the MLS is Back tournament in the Orlando “bubble” concludes on Tuesday, Dallas will host Nashville at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday and Sunday, marking the return of regular-season Major League Soccer games at club stadiums. And the return of fans in the stands.
Dollar plans to be there for his team’s first match since March, though the choice is not without risk. At least, that’s what the 1,438-word legal waiver to enter the stadium says. It requires attendees to acknowledge the possibility of exposure to Covid-19 and to agree not to sue.
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