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Lion Links: 2/8/15

Orlando City draws with Toronto FC, USMNT dominates Panama, Fire looks at a former France captain and more in your Monday morning links.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Lande

It was a busy week for Orlando City SC, from our first glimpse of what Kaká's going to bring to the table for the Lions this season, to the launch of the #FillTheBowl movement to sell out the club's first game, to an open practice and autograph session attended by thousands of supporters.

All of this was capped off by a great performance by the USMNT that prominently featured a player who should be a key piece of Orlando City's starting XI this season.

The excitement keeps building and building around the club. MLS season couldn't come any sooner.

Orlando City draws in third preseason match

Orlando City and Toronto FC played to a scoreless draw yesterday at ChampionsGate in a match that was closed both to the public and media. We would have liked to have been there, but alas.

The battle for who's going to line up next to Aurélien Collin at center back took another turn when Sean St. Ledger, who's on trial and hoping to make the squad, made the start beside Conor Donovan. Collin sat out the game to nurse a muscle injury. The club is going to explore all options after failing to seal the deal with Paulo André recently.

USMNT Dominates Panama; Women Not as Successful in France

Just in case you didn't watch the U.S.-Panama game, here's Michael Bradley's magnificent corner kick into the side netting at the back post. That poor goal didn't know what hit it.

The LA Galaxy's Gyasi Zardes won some well-deserved praise for his performance in the match, including using pace, vision and precision pacing to hook up Clint Dempsey on the second goal of the game. Dempsey's finishing touches on the goal were outstanding.

The Stars and Stripes fared well in their first win of 2015 by generally out-classing the Panamanian side for the entire match. Lions midfielder/fullback Brek Shea made the start at left back and played a large part in helping the U.S. attack. His low cross into the box led to the aforementioned goal by Bradley. I can't stop watching it.

The Women's National Team didn't have the same success Sunday and dropped its first game of the season, 2-0 to France. Several key players -- Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe, among others -- were missing, but it's not an encouraging result with the Women's World Cup only four months away.

Chicago Fire brings in former France captain

Former France captain and West Ham United midfielder Alou Diarra joined the Fire's overseas camp and will get a look from Chicago during the team's stint in England.

Diarra earned 44 caps for Les Bleus and led the French national side on the field in its last match of France's controversial run through the 2010 World Cup.

The Fire play Premier League side Queens Parks Rangers on Thursday and return to play in the Simple Invitational in Portland later this month.

Orlando's USL Pro affiliate will take part in U.S. Open Cup

Louisville City FC announced earlier this week it will participate in the U.S. Open Cup this year. The club will play May 20 in a second-round match against an amateur team advancing from the first round.

USL Pro teams have made the Open Cup Final three times. The Rochester Raging Rhino's 1999 Cup-winning side is the only club at that level to win it.

It's unlikely that Louisville will get to play the match at its home stadium, since it shares Louisville Slugger Field with Triple-A team of the same name, which plays a home game on the same day.

Days until Orlando City's first match: 28

Correction: In a previous edition of this posting, the author erroneously credited Charleston Battery as the 1999 U.S. Open Cup champions, when in fact it was the Rochester Rhinos, then referred to as the Rochester Raging Rhinos.