What's up, Mane Landers? It's amazing to think that we are now approaching week seven of this fantastic MLS season. Tomorrow, the Lions will look to continue their early season momentum with a match at home against the LA Galaxy. In the buildup to that game we've had a great week of news, so sit back and enjoy today's Lion Links.
Orlando City released midfielder Danny Deakin yesterday afternoon, which was a surprising move for its timing. Deakin, who may be re-signed to a USL contract, frees up an international roster slot with his departure. This could be a sign that another move is percolating for Jason Kreis and Niki Budalic. The Lions continue to add useful pieces and with the recent rash of injuries, another one wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Joe Bendik Recognized for Great Performances
Having a good goalkeeper is kind of like having a cup of coffee in the morning. You don't really appreciate it until you don't have it anymore. Personally, I think Joe Bendik doesn't get enough praise for what he does for Orlando City but he does seem to be receiving more and more of it. His goalkeeper coach, Tim Mulqueen, says Joe is good because he wants to be good.
“I think what comes across with Joe most is that he is a student of the game, and therefore his decision-making process is very good,” Mulqueen said. “He is very knowledgeable of his responsibilities within the team and he maintains great focus.
“He is obviously an excellent shot-stopper. We have seen it time and time again. I’d say he is one of the best right now, and his leadership of the group is tremendous.”
Orlando Pride are Excited for the Upcoming Season
For the Pride, last year was a bit of a mess. In the off-season, Head Coach Tom Sermanni has done a pretty good job of putting together a team that can really compete in 2017. Even though preseason games are often criticized, the team certainly looks much better just based off of those games. This weekend, the team will take to the pitch for its first league game of the season away against the Portland Thorns. Early on, the players seem to be extremely optimistic with the consensus being that they just want to win. It was a recurring theme throughout yesterday’s team Media Day event.
Orlando City Stadium Proving Beneficial for Parramore
Our new stadium has brought with it some rave reviews from around the league. While being a big part of sports culture, a stadium also gets a little bit of a bad reputation sometimes with regards to its impact on the surrounding community. A lot of times the traffic and noise is a hassle for locals, along with other problems. Luckily, it seems that the Parramore neighborhood has seen mostly positive changes since the arrival of the new stadium.
That sentiment continues through other major points throughout the neighborhood. At local barbershop institution J Henry’s, the mood veers from jubilant to cautious. It’s been a tough couple of years for owner J. Henry, who saw his business hit hard while the huge construction project ripped up much of his Church Street frontage.
But with foot traffic flowing again, he is seeing more money pouring into the neighborhood, especially on game days. “I have been the owner here since 1994 and it has been a time of great uncertainty,” Henry said on recent afternoon. “The good part is that we are now getting exposure and support, and people who didn’t come to this neighborhood in the past are now visiting, and they bring a very diverse group with them, the people who support soccer. I never imagined this would happen.”
NWSL to Broadcast Games on Go90
A big problem for American soccer in general is the lack of coverage. With the NWSL's new deal with go90, anyone in the United States can now watch every single game of the season. The deal means that 98 NWSL matches will air on go90 while there’ll be a weekly televised match on Lifetime. Tune in to Lifetime this Saturday at 3 p.m. to see the Pride in action in the network’s first ever national Game of the Week. Former U.S. Women's National Team star Julie Foudy will be co-hosting both the pregame and halftime show.
USWNT to Host Another SheBelieves Cup-Type Tournament
Last month, the U.S. hosted the second edition of the SheBelieves Cup, a tournament for the elite international women's teams. Even though they were on home soil, the Yanks actually didn't do so well, finishing last out of the four teams in the competition. Either the tournament was a big hit or they want a shot at redemption because the U.S. will be hosting the same type of tournament, this time from July 27 to Aug. 3. — a period that falls within a FIFA international window, minimizing its impact on the NWSL season. The July 29-30 weekend has no NWSL games scheduled due the international window, during which many players will be playing in the 2017 Women’s Euro.
Visiting the U.S. for the tourney are the national teams of Brazil, Australia, and Japan. The games will be of interest to Orlando Pride fans, due to the large percentage of the team that also plays on three of those four national teams. Tom Sermanni doesn’t have any Japanese players on his squad but there are plenty of American, Brazilian, and Aussie internationals wearing purple these days.
That wraps up today's Lion Links. Tomorrow should be really exciting as we get to see both Orlando City and the Pride play. Let's all hope for two wins tomorrow, and another tonight when OCB visits New York Red Bulls II.