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Lion Links: 4/18/17

Orlando up to third in MLS Power Rankings, Johnson, Spector, and Bendik on MLS Team of the Week, NWSL GO90 experience, Mal Pugh, and more!

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers. The hard part is over, which is Monday. Today is National Animal Crackers Day, so treat yourself. Reminisce on the past as you enjoy a childhood staple.

It is a great time to be an Orlando City fan. OCSC is all the talk. The media is beginning to take note of what is happening in Orlando. The euphoria of the weekend still hasn’t worn off. Let’s continue to ride the wave, but remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Now, on to the links.

Orlando City Third in ESPN FC Power Rankings

Orlando City moved up five spots to No. 3 in the ESPN FC MLS Power Rankings. There is still a good deal of skepticism regarding Orlando, and that will continue until the team proves it on the road.

The squad is still dealing with injuries, so obviously it is a work in progress. It is early in the season, but other players are stepping up, and they are finding ways to win. The Lions are showing a grit and determination that they haven’t shown before.

It’s still early in the season, but winning breeds confidence. The more confidence that players have, the better they play. So, they aren’t where they will be, but they aren’t where they were, either.

Johnson, Spector, and Bendik on MLS Team of the Week

OCSC was well-represented on the Week 7 MLS Team of the Week. Will Johnson and Jonathan Spector made the Starting XI, while Joe Bendik was recognized with a bench role. Former Orlando City player Kevin Molino, now with Minnesota United, was also recognized with with a bench role.

The moral to the story is that if the team keeps winning, individual accolades will come. But winning is the key. The team can’t lose track of that concept.

Reviewing the NWSL GO90 Experience

The National Women’s Soccer League recently announced an agreement with GO90 to stream games. The service debuted Saturday as league play kicked off, with all games except the Lifetime Game of the Week streaming on the app. As with any new undertaking, there were issues, but that is to be expected. The biggest challenge will be to get people to accept something new. The NWSL should be applauded for trying something different because that is the way for survival long-term.

Dan Lauletta and Allison Lee documented their experiences with GO90 for Equalizer Soccer. There were issues, but that isn’t surprising. The deal was only announced four days ago, so there may be more issues over the next few weeks. Everyone needs to understand that, and realize there will be growing pains. The NWSL is trying to build something that will last.

Pugh Turns Pro

United States Women’s National Team starlet Mal Pugh has made a U-turn and decided to forgo her freshman season at UCLA in order to turn pro, the school announced Monday. The 18-year-old Pugh has scored five goals to go along with three assists in 22 USWNT appearances, and the timing of a new CBA may have made the prospect of playing for free a bit harder to accept for Pugh. If she opts for the NWSL, the Washington Spirit currently have the top allocation spot.

Drogba Brings Recognition to Phoenix’s MLS Hopes

Jeff Carlisle wrote a piece for ESPN FC detailing how the Didier Drogba signing is the latest step in an effort to bring the MLS to Phoenix. Phoenix Rising FC owner Berke Bakay of Turkey has been planning the effort. This business isn’t completely foreign to Bakay, as his uncle was on Turkish soccer club Galatasaray’s board. That relationship is how he was able to eventually convince Drogba to come on board.

The Drogba signing is different from another older player trying to cash out. Even though he is old, Drogba’s name holds weight. This signing gives credibility to Phoenix Rising FC. Drogba is slated to play for two years and then join the ownership group in some executive role.

MLS Not Interested in Terry?

John Terry has announced that he won’t be returning to Chelsea next season. So, in the past, the logical assumption would be that he is coming to MLS. But it is being reported that no MLS teams are interested. There was a similar situation last season where Terry was going to leave Chelsea, but no MLS team would meet his salary demands, and he ended up returning to Chelsea. MLS is in a different growth phase. If the league wants to gain credibility on worldwide scale, then it has to find talented young players rather than going after the old players they way it used to.

That’s all for this edition. Remember to catch Orlando City B vs. Harrisburg City tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET. Until next time.