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Lion Links: 4/9/17

OCB closes home stand, Orlando City responds to muscle injuries, Tom Sermanni speaks out about the recent Marta transfer, refereeing is hard, and much more.

Soccer: Post WWC Tour-Brazil at USA Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers! Today we get to see our Lions in action for the fourth time this season — this time against the New York Red Bulls. Orlando City may not be undefeated anymore but it has won two in two at home. Of course, we all hope this streak continues but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Today is Antonio Nocerino’s 32nd birthday and we at The Mane Land wish the Italian midfielder a happy one. Three points would make for a nice gift.

Now, we invite you to enjoy today’s Lion Links.

Orlando City Makes Changes Due to Hamstring Issues

Injuries are a thing that is supposed to haunt everyone equally, but Orlando City has been hit by the injury bug pretty hard, especially in the hamstring department. Kaká, Jose Aja, Tony Rocha, Rafael Ramos, and Kevin Alston have all had hammy issues this season. Now it seems that Orlando City’s fitness team is trying to do something about it. Personally, I feel this is really a breath of fresh air as I wasn’t really sure Orlando City had a fitness team.

OCB Finishes Home Stand with 1-1 Draw

The Charlotte Independence and OCB took to the pitch at Orlando City Stadium last night. After a scoreless first half, the young Lions fell behind 15 minutes into the second period. But Albert Dikwa scored his first professional goal to lift OCB to a 1-1 draw to finish the home stand with a 1-1-1 record and an overall mark of 1-2-1. Now OCB will hit the road for matches against New York Red Bulls II, Harrisburg, and Bethlehem Steel FC. The young Lions won’t be home again until April 27 against Saint Louis FC.

Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni Speaks on the Marta Signing

If you read yesterday’s Lion Links, then you know that the Orlando Pride have signed probably the best women’s soccer player ever in Brazilian legend Marta. Tom Sermanni gave his thoughts on acquiring the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year. Understandably, he seemed ecstatic to have her. Hopefully, with Marta here and a more organized preseason under their belt, the Pride can go on to have a successful 2017 NWSL season.

Catley Spotlighted by FourFourTwo

Orlando Pride defender Steph Catley was named one of FourFourTwo’s list of the NWSL’s 10 “most quietly crucial stars.” Catley was one of Orlando’s top players — arguably the team’s top performer — but was limited to barely more than half the Pride’s matches last season due to international duty with Australia and a season-ending injury. Catley may be able to help with more than just the defense in 2017, expanding her role with the Pride.

Sermanni tested out a three-back system for the Pride this preseason, which would thrust Catley into a wing-back role. The Pride also struggled to find the back of the net and could do with some added attack on the wings. Catley is a naturally left-footed player and has plenty of pace, both of which only add to her upside in getting into the attack.

The Soccer World Finally Gets Some Perspective on Referees

It's the age old conflict. Ever since there have been referees, there has been conflict. I, for one, dream of a time where there were no referees and players would play soccer and apply the rules accordingly and fairly. Of course, that is a fantasy and referees are not the sole source of all the world’s problems. Now, because of some great work from FourFourTwo, we have a little bit of a perspective from the actual referees. They even threw in some perspective from the players. Take a look and you’ll see that refereeing is actually harder than it looks.

Former Lion Brek Shea Out For 6-12 Weeks

Brek Shea had a pretty rough time with Orlando and after has move to Vancouver we still haven't seen him get back to his best. Now he has suffered another setback after a knee injury he endured against Tigres in the third minute of the Whitecaps’ CONCACAF Champions League match-up. The injury came just moments after he scored a goal in the third minute, and it appears he will be out for months, rather than weeks. Even though he is gone, it is always sad to see a player with such potential suffer through such disappointments.

That’s it for today’s Lion Links. I hope you enjoy the game!