I hardly have time to care too much about the National Hockey League. There’s just too many other things going on in the world of sports to consume my attention.
But now we’re down to the final four teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s reason enough to start paying attention, right?
What’s interesting about the upcoming matchups this weekend is that there’s no hard feelings stemming from previous postseason clashes to help get the excitement brewing. Instead we’ve got one team in the mist of a marginally lengthy Stanley Cup drought and, in comparison, three others still cleaning up confetti from recent triumphs.
On Saturday it’s the top-seeded New York Rangers and the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning meeting in the Eastern Conference. Sunday it’ll be the No. 1 Anaheim Ducks hosting the No. 3 Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference.
The Orlando City Soccer Club is a long way away from being ready for the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season. Finding MLS experience to fill out the roster is a top priority this offseason as the Lions make a move from the minor leagues to the top division in North America.
Last week I caught up with OCSC general manager Paul McDonough and president Phil Rawlins about the pending acquisition of Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who started in back-to-back MLS Cup matches in 2011 and 2012.
While the Orlando City Soccer Club has been preparing for its move to MLS by pursuing global stars such as the recently acquired Kaka and potential transfer Robinho, the club’s first MLS signee is having a breakout season in USL PRO.
Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino hasn’t had a lot of time to ponder what the 2015 roster might look like while helping the Lions (14-0-4, 46 points) remain unbeaten by way of an offensive explosion unlike any in his career.
“As a player that’s already signed for MLS [in Orlando] you always wonder who will come in and who you’ll be playing with next year,” Molino said. “It’s great to see that a couple big names want to come here. It shows we’ve been doing some good over the past couple years.”
Entering Sunday’s match at Rochester, Molino leads the league in points (29) and assists (7) and ranks third in goals scored with 11 in 17 appearances.
The Orlando City Soccer Club will join Major League Soccer in 2015 after finishing out their final season this year in USL Pro. While the Lions remain focused on defending their league title, there’s plenty of work being done to ensure the transition to the big leagues goes as smooth as possible.
Orlando City currently has five players under contract for 2015. I chatted with Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath last week about the signings and what they might mean for the club at the next level.