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Lion Links: 5/22/17

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Orlando City meets NYCFC for the third time, Pride go back on the road, Beckham’s group sees inspiration in Orlando, and more.

MLS: Sporting KC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Monday, Mane Landers, and it’s time to start the work week, whether we want to or not. But after last night’s Orlando City match, it’s perfectly understandable if you call in “sick” this morning. I’ll allow it.

Before we go any further, let me wish Pride midfielder Kristen Edmonds a happy 30th birthday on behalf of the entire Mane Land staff.

Now let’s get to your first Lion Links of the work week.

Orlando City Suffers First Home Loss

The Lions got an unlucky break early when a ball hit the captain’s arm in the box and never fully recovered last night. Cyle Larin had a chance to pull Orlando City back into the match in the second half but he cracked his spot kick off the woodwork. The Lions are winless in five May matches (0-3-2) and next weekend’s match at Minnesota looks like a must-win to stop the bleeding. Here’s what you need to know:

And check back with us later today for my five takeaways from the game and a photo gallery from Nick Leyva.

Orlando Pride Earn Hard-Fought Draw at Seattle Reign

The last time the Pride went to Seattle, they got shellacked, 5-2. This time around, Orlando fought hard and earned a 1-1 draw on the road against the league’s highest scoring team, despite losing starting goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to injury in the first half. With backup Aubrey Bledsoe out due to a concussion, the Pride were forced to press Caroline Stanley into emergency service.

Stanley made a bit of a mistake trying to punch away a cross, which led to Seattle’s opening goal. But Haley Kopmeyer returned the favor by giving a teammate a goal kick in traffic. Camila poked it away with a good hustle play and Marta finished to make it 1-1. As for Harris’ status, we don’t know much yet, but...

Beckham Group Finding Inspiration in Orlando

David Beckham’s Miami Are-They-Going-To-Be-Around Machine finally seems to be gaining some traction toward actual MLS-hood. With a stadium plan that could see a venue built by 2021 and a potential entry date as early as 2019, the Beckham group is showing positive momentum for the first time. Whether or not the group comes through and enters Major League Soccer is still not a sure bet, but it’s a good sign that Beckham and company are looking north toward Orlando City as a model for how to approach MLS expansion.

For inspiration, they look north to Orlando, where MLS team Orlando City this season is selling out a new 25,500-seat stadium shoehorned into the middle of Parramore, a poor historically black community between Orange Blossom Trail and Interstate 4 in downtown Orlando.

Beckham’s group hired global architecture firm Populous to design the Miami stadium, the same company that did the Orlando City stadium. The Orlando stadium has no on-site parking garages, making use of nearby public lots and public transport.

Orlando City has made significant efforts to be a good neighbor, employing Parramore residents for construction and stadium jobs; hosting farmer’s markets for local residents; building a six-panel Parramore History Wall the honors leaders and historic events from the neighborhood; honoring a different Parramore business at each game; and providing guest-readers and volunteers for a neighborhood school.

I’ve long been one of the skeptics of whether this Beckham Miami thing will ever get off the ground, but if the group is willing to learn from Orlando City, there is hope for South Florida.

Has the MLS East Surpassed the West?

Major League Soccer’s Western Conference has been unquestionably the stronger half of the league over the last few seasons. But Alicia Rodriguez of mlssoccer.com says there’s evidence that the trend is reversing itself. Rodriguez points out the 21-13-17 record the East holds over the West and back-to-back lopsided defeats by the Houston Dynamo at Philly and Atlanta. Certainly a few of last year’s non-playoff Eastern Conference teams have stepped up this year (i.e. Orlando City and Chicago), while some traditional western powers like RSL and Seattle have struggled. And the Eastern Conference’s expansion team seems much better than the one from the West. What do you think? I’m not totally convinced just yet but there does appear to be a trend of the East at least catching up.

Free Kicks
  • Former Orlando City defender Mikey Ambrose made his Atlanta United first-team debut in the 73rd minute last weekend against the Portland Timbers. Our friends at Dirty South Soccer published this nice write-up about the former Lion.
  • Congratulations to the Orlando City U-15 purple team on its undefeated weekend, winning Battle at the Beach. Oh, and the 2006 boys academy team did it too!
  • Sharing a birthday with Kristen Edmonds are: Sherlock Holmes novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859), actor/director Sir Laurence Olivier (1907), actor Richard Benjamin (1938), retired journalist Bernard Shaw (1940), soccer legend George Best (1946), Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin (1950), former footballer and current New England Revolution color commentator Paul Mariner (1953), angsty crooner Morrissey (1959), U.S. Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno (1982), Sky Blue FC forward Natasha Kai (1983), former Philadelphia Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta (1985), and Chilean international & Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal (1987).

That’s all the time for me this morning. I’d tell you to enjoy your day but Mondays, man... Mondays.