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Lion Links: 3/18/16

In today's Lion Links read to your heart's content about the NYCFC match, Cyle Larin and his sizzling form, Lewis Neal's role with OCB, and Pride coach Tom Sermanni's role in constructing the expansion franchise.

Cyle Larin looks forward to more goals and a win tonight in New York City.
Cyle Larin looks forward to more goals and a win tonight in New York City.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Land readers! As always, I hope your weeks have treated you all well and if not, at least the weekend is nearly upon us. What better way to get it going that reading today's links in advance of tonight's match vs. New York City FC!

NYCFC Match Build-up

As tonight's game approaches, The Mane Land has got you covered with the latest news regarding the first meeting of the season between last year's MLS debutantes with a variety of match previews, notes and other goodies.

  • Games between the two clubs last year were nothing if not exciting. The inaugural MLS match for each franchise in last season's opening weekend saw a stoppage-time equalizer from Kaká for 10-man Orlando City. July's contest at Yankee Stadium saw the Lions on the wrong side of an eight-goal thriller, although Cyle Larin netted his first professional hat trick. In the final meeting last year, OCSC picked up its first win over NYCFC with a Larin brace enough to secure all three points. Both teams enter tonight's contest looking to remain unbeaten on the young season.
  • After last week's unconventional formation deployed by first-year head coach Patrick Vieira, the players appear to have taken to it. Will we see the same again tonight? Vieira has indicated he has several tactical options in his arsenal. Questions still remain as to how to best accommodate the club's trio of Designated Players.
  • Referee assignments have been released and Allen Chapman will be the head official for tonight's match.
Larin Looks to Continue Hot Streak

Larin is eagerly anticipating tonight's game. In his current form, the games cannot come quickly enough. His record against NYCFC (five goals in two games last season), in combination with his hot start to the current campaign has the young forward ready for the spotlight of New York.

Lewis Neal's Leadership Role with Orlando City B

After two previous stints with Orlando City, the first in 2011 during the club's USL days and the second last year with the MLS side, midfielder Lewis Neal is back with the organization and the veteran is looking to take a leadership role with OCB. Neal is approaching the season looking toward his post-playing days with an eye on coaching once the 34-year-old hangs up his playing boots.

"It's something that I want to look to do when I finish playing, trying to get into the coaching side of things," Neal said recently. "This is a great transitional role for me to try and play, and try and help the young guys come through, and be that voice and that little bit of experience for them on the field and try and help out as much as I can."

If you need to catch up on OCB happenings before next Saturday's season and home opener, check out USL.com's preview of the club.

Pride Coach Tom Sermanni Comfortable in Position

Taking on an expansion franchise can be quite the daunting experience. The Orlando Pride look to have found the right man to lead the team in its inaugural NWSL season.

"We got a deal done virtually within the first phone call," Sermanni said of the agreement that made him head coach of the Orlando Pride, a National Women's Soccer League expansion team. "The call came Thursday night and I signed on a Sunday. Not quite overnight, but almost overnight it all happened."

Sermanni has a long career both as a player and coach who has spent time in the UK, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the United States. His various coaching roles have provided experience working with the Pride's top stars, Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, Sarah Hagen, Kaylyn Kyle, Laura Alleway and Steph Catley.

Free kicks
  • Today's soccer-related birthdays include "Big Ron" Atkinson (b. 1939), current Tijuana manager Miguel Herrera (b. 1968), and  recently sacked Bordeaux manager Willy Sagnol (b. 1977).
  • Nike has officially revealed the new USMNT and USWNT kits. Personally, I'm not a fan of the black look. What do you think of the new threads?
  • Tonight's opponents, NYCFC, have completed a trade with Sporting KC in which they acquire an international roster spot for this season in exchange for Target Allocation Money.

That's it for today, folks. Enjoy your Friday match day.