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Lion Links: 8/20/16

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Josee Belanger wins Olympic bronze, Minnesota United is officially unveiled for next season and more in today’s Lion Links.

Germany v Canada: Women's Football - Olympics: Day 4 Photo by Celso Junior/Getty Images

It’s another Saturday morning episode of Lion Links and this time it’s a match day special. If you need something to read while you’re putting off your weekend chores (and who can blame you? It’s too hot, your lawn can wait until winter), then we have the links for you. Let’s face it, there’s no point in turning on the television anyway unless you want the latest update on the Lochte scandal and dressage is over so why are the Olympics even on still?

Has Joe Bendik become an Elite MLS Keeper?

Simon Veness of MLSSoccer.com tries to answer that question in his latest article by comparing him to tonight’s competition, Tim Howard, and some other goalkeepers from around the league. Bendik has had a breakout campaign this year after a disappointing tenure with Toronto FC and, with the national team’s keeper position starting to open up, he wants to contend for higher honors. Bendik believes there is competition heating up all around the league for a spot on the USMNT roster, but Orlando keeper coach Steve Kerr believes the 27-year-old has what it takes.

An English Take on Orlando’s Supporters

Bandy & Shinty, a blog generally focusing on Nottingham Forest of the English Championship, spent some time with the Iron Lion Firm during Orlando City’s 3-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders — as part of a piece on match-day experiences — and described it as “an eye-opening experience.” They harp on the “gratuitous swearing” and the choreography of the ILF and it’s an interesting take and commentary on home support. Their piece both praises and criticizes some of Orlando’s soccer culture, and it’s a great perspective.

Servando Carrasco Takes on Leadership Role

Servando is learning his second new system in two years as he and the rest of the Lions adapt to Jason Kreis and his style of play. This time, he’s been given a more important role under the new manager, both on the pitch and off. Kreis has high praise for Carrasco, saying that he’s “really bought in to what we’re trying to do.” Servando not only acts as the connection between the defense and the midfield on the pitch, but he’s an important communicator for Kreis’ expectations thanks to his bilingual ability.

Belanger Wins Bronze

Orlando Pride defenders Josee Belanger and Monica Hickmann Alves squared off in the bronze medal match for Canada and Brazil, respectively. Canada managed to hold on to its lead in a 2-1 victory to place third for the second Olympics in a row and deny the hosts a medal. Deanne Rose and Christine Sinclair struck for the Canadians to open up a 2-0 lead before Brazil pulled back with a goal from Beatriz with 10 minutes left in regulation. Both Monica and Josee played the full match for their countries. Certainly Tom Sermanni and the rest of the Pride contingent will be happy to see them return unscathed.

In the gold medal match, Germany defeated upstart Sweden, 2-1, in a nervy match that saw the Germans unable to put the Swedes away. The victory marks Germany’s first-ever gold medal in women’s soccer.

Minnesota United to Start MLS Play in 2017

Minnesota United’s stadium situation had delayed a set start date for the expansion franchise, but in a special announcement last night they officially revealed a 2017 start date. They will play at TCF Bank Stadium while their new St. Paul home is under construction and will join Atlanta United as next year’s debut clubs. Unlike Orlando City, they will be able to keep their lower-league logo, but it would have been a disappointment if the league had made them change. If you’re interested in learning more about soccer in the Twin Cities, Paul Tenorio has that info for you.

Those are your Lion Links for today. Be on the lookout for our weekly Intelligence Report and How to Watch pieces and be sure to check back in for all of our coverage as Orlando takes on Colorado.