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Lion Links: 4/15/17

Orlando City B begins road trip, Leo Pereira promoted, Cyle Larin is good, Kreis dislikes MPG suspension and much more.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Match Day, Mane Landers. Your Lions will host the LA Galaxy this afternoon at Orlando City Stadium and yours truly will be there with about 25,500 or so of my closest friends. Be loud today. Maybe going deaf will mess with the Galaxy’s equilibrium. The Pride also play today, kicking off the 2017 NWSL season at Portland Thorns. So, you know, there’s lots of stuff going on.

Before we get to your Saturday helping of piping hot Lion Links, I’d like to take a moment to wish OCSC striker Carlos Rivas a happy 23rd birthday. Let’s hope Carlos gets a better present than Antonio Nocerino got six days ago, when he received a calf strain from the soccer gods.

Here are those Links I promised:

OCB Still Can’t Beat Red Bulls II

It wasn’t a great start to OCB’s three-game road trip to the Northeast. Orlando City B played a mostly good first half and a meh second half, but two defending errors before the break put the young Lions in a 2-1 hole. Switching off mentally on a late set piece gave New York Red Bulls II a somewhat flattering 3-1 win. Albert Dikwa scored the lone OCB goal off a beautiful cross from Pierre Da Silva to equalize the game after Junior Flemmings put the hosts ahead early. Austin Martz hit the outside of the post on a golden opportunity for OCB. A goal in first-half stoppage time made things tough on OCB and the young Lions could never really get back in the game in the second period.

One bright spot though is that the last two trips to play NYRBII resulted in losses by four goals each. So OCB is twice as good now, right? Right?!

Leo Pereira Promoted to Orlando City

Brazilian center back Leo Pereira played in all of three USL matches — one at left back — before impressing enough to take the next step. Orlando City B loaned Pereira to the OCSC MLS side for the full season on Friday. The move is due in part to the absences of Seb Hines and Jose Aja, and the upcoming absence of Tommy Redding, who will leave the club to participate in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea. It is also due in part to outstanding play since his arrival from Clube Atletico Paranaense just a few weeks ago. Pereira will occupy the international slot vacated by Danny Deakin when he was waived on Thursday.

Larin in the Spotlight

Look, we know Cyle Larin is a good soccer player. We know that everyone around MLS knows it. But it’s getting to the point that everyone knows it. Charles Boehm of mlssoccer.com knows it. And he wrote this nice long story about Cyle Larin being a good soccer player. In the story, there are even some comments about Cyle from some of the legends of the game.

“He’s great with his back to goal. I think he’s, if not the best, one of the best inside the [penalty] box in this league,” said Eddie Johnson, the retired U.S. international who recorded 71 league goals and 21 assists over a decade-long run in MLS sandwiched around European adventures in England, Wales and Greece.

“He can hold the ball up, he can score with his head, he can score with his left foot, he can score with his right foot.”

There are also comments from Brian McBride and Jason Kreis, who you may recall was a pretty good goal scorer in MLS.

Kreis on the MPG Suspension

Jason Kreis did what a good coach should do and stuck up for his player when asked about the midweek suspension handed down to Matias Perez Garcia from the MLS Disciplinary Committee. MPG will miss today’s match against the LA Galaxy for kicking Felipe Martins last Sunday after being run over by the Red Bulls midfielder. Here’s what Kreis said about the play and the suspension:

“Disappointed, because live during the game I didn’t think anything was there. I really didn’t,” Kreis said. “I think both players went into a 50-50 challenge a little bit recklessly. Both players, I think, had a little bit of action after the play. I think if you look at that play from a different angle, you could make the same argument that he ought to be suspended for stepping on Matías’ arm.

“But, at the end of the day, we don’t get to make those decisions, we don’t get to be a part of those decisions, so we just respect them and move forward.”

Pride in the Playoffs? We’ll See.

The Orlando Pride were picked to finish fourth — above the playoff line — in the NWSL in 2017 by Soccer America Daily. Orlando is a sexy pick to reach the postseason in Year 2 due mainly to both a revamped defense and the addition of Brazilian superstar Marta, who won’t make it to the season opener today but could be with the team by the home opener next Saturday (pending international paperwork, of course). This story by Graham Hays of ESPNW discusses what effect Marta’s arrival may have on the league and he also talks about the delayed returns of Pride striker Alex Morgan and Houston Dash midfielder Carli Lloyd.

Free Kicks

That will do it for me today. Enjoy both the men’s and women’s matches today. I’ll leave you with this to enjoy: