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Lion Links: 10/6/16

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Happy birthday Kaylyn Kyle, Kevin Molino and Tommy Redding in international action, Orlando City’s academy looks strong and more!

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, y’all. Today is an extra special Thursday. The Orlando Pride’s Kaylyn Kyle turns 28 today, so The Mane Land would like to wish her a happy birthday.

Despite no games for Orlando City, we’ve got quite a full slate of Lion Links for you. So let’s get right to them.

Molino and Redding on International Duty

Kevin Molino has been arguably the best player for Orlando City this year, and he showed his goal-scoring prowess Wednesday night, scoring three goals for Trinidad and Tobago...in 55 minutes.

If only he could have done that this year for Orlando City. The Lions wouldn’t have 87 draws.

On another note, Tommy Redding appeared for the U-20 USMNT. They didn’t get a win, but it looked like they matched up well with Germany.

Orlando City Expects Big Things from Academy Players

Orlando City sees a bright future for the club, in large part because of the strong foundation the club is building through its academy. As the Orlando Sentinel’s Alicia DelGallo notes, the club frequently invites its top academy players, ages 16-18, to gain invaluable experience and train with the first team. DelGallo mentions Orlando City B’s Pierre Da Silva as a prime example of an academy player, moving up the ladder to have success. She also mentions a few others who might be next in line:

U-17/18 player Isaque Couto made multiple appearance at MLS training sessions, especially during the last few months. He made his professional debut Aug. 17 in a 4-0 OCB loss against Charlotte. Pro Academy defender David Norris also was called up for that match.

Orlando native David Loera, 18, is in his second season with Orlando City's U-17/18 team and made three appearances with OCB this year. He even snagged a game-winning assist in stoppage time to help OCB beat Louisville City FC 2-1 July 30.

Atlanta United has a Home...for Now

Atlanta United, a 2017 MLS expansion franchise, will start its season in March 2017 at Georgia Tech’s Historic Bobby Dodd Stadium, the club announced. The club wanted to be sure to play a balanced slate of home games in 2017, but Mercedes-Benz Stadium won’t be ready until the summer, which will cause the club to start the year playing at Georgia Tech.

Let’s hope their experience on the field goes a little bit better than Orlando City’s experience in year one at the Citrus Bowl. Or else they’d better have a good doctor on payroll.

Lamar Neagle wins SBN’s MLS Player of the Week

Three goals and one assist in two games earned D.C. United’s Lamar Neagle Player of the Week honors from SB Nation. Having two games in one week obviously helped, but Neagle put in a strong performance in both matches, which earned him the honors, as he finished nine points ahead of Dax McCarty in the voting. Neagle finished with 19 points. Evan Bush was third in the voting with seven points.

USL Teams Up with Opta

The USL has agreed to a three-year deal with sports data provider Opta to become the league’s official data partner. Opta will provide the teams, fans, and media with more tracked, recorded, and databased action than ever before. This seems to be a coup for the league as it tries to continue its growth. Access to data to this extent outside of the big four sports leagues is rare, and obviously exciting.

Heading into the 2017 season, Opta will manage and deliver statistical analysis for all USL matches, including regular season, USL Cup Playoffs and USL Cup Final games. The data will be available to fans on USLSoccer.com, featuring new match centers utilizing Opta’s widget technology. USL teams also will have the ability to integrate Opta data into its own websites and enhance the experience for fans.

The partnership will begin during the 2016 USL Cup final, airing live on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

That’s all we’ve got for today. Have a good Thursday, gang. Pour one out for Kaylyn Kyle’s 28th birthday and stay safe if you’re in the path of Hurricane Matthew.