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Lion Links: 5/3/17

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World Cup qualifying action coming to Orlando, Redding stepping up, Marta for Player of the Year, and much more!

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s game day, Lions fans. Orlando City will try to build on its recent success against last year’s MLS Cup finalist, Toronto FC. But first, let’s catch up on the latest Orlando links, as we prep for tonight’s big game.

OCSC Attracting National Attention

The national recognition is picking up as Orlando continues its impressive run of performances. ESPN is the latest to join in with the accolades, claiming that the Lions “won the month of April.” It’s hard to debate that fact, as the Lions added victories both at home and away last month. The losers of the month? That prize goes to the Philadelphia Union fans — hard to argue against that as well.

Tommy Redding Still Only 20

Will Parchman, writing for MLS, named Tommy Redding his No. 3 defender at 20 and under in the league. Redding’s solid play since stepping into the starting 11, and his inclusion in the U-20 U.S. National Team didn’t hurt his ranking. Giles Barnes seems to think so:

“Find a better center half in this league at 20. Find one. It’s true.”

With José Aja returning from injury, Jason Kreis will have two good options to partner with Jonathan Spector for a busy May schedule — at least until Redding leaves to join the U.S. for the U-20 World Cup (assuming he’s selected).

Marta Up for Women’s Honor

BBC named Marta as one of five nominees for the 2017 Women’s Footballer of the Year. Christine Sinclair of the Portland Thorns and Canada is the second player in the group representing the NWSL. Follow the link to vote for the Pride’s newest player.

Pride Collects Another GOTW

For the second week running, an Orlando Pride player picked up the honors for NWSL’s Goal of the Week. Camila Pereira gets the attention this week with her shot that bends away from the goalkeeper and lands in the side panel. The Pride’s Danica Evans won the competition last week with her first strike as a professional in the Pride’s home opener and this was Camila’s first NWSL goal.

World Cup Qualifiers Coming to the City Beautiful

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that Orlando City Stadium will host a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 6. Orlando fans will get to see some Hex action right in their backyard, as the U.S. takes on Panama. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Orlando to showcase its beautiful new stadium at the national level, and, hopefully, it’s the first of many.

That’s a wrap for this edition of Lion Links. There’ll be plenty of pre-match coverage available leading up to tonight’s game, so make sure to check The Mane Land throughout the day and follow us on Twitter. Thanks for tuning in.