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Lion Links: 6/4/17

Two Lions on preliminary Gold Cup roster, Pride blank Boston, OCB mounts a comeback, two USMNT matches against Venezuela, a Real Madrid repeat, and more.

Happy match day, Mane Landers! Orlando City will face the blazing hot Chicago Fire and goal-scoring machine Nemanja Nikolic tonight at the Purple Palace. Of course we’ll be on hand to bring you all the story lines and action from the match, so keep it tuned to The Mane Land for all your OCSC needs.

Hopefully the Lions can put together another run like they had at the start of the year, when Orlando won six of seven to open the season. There has been a great run and a bad run so far, so it’s time to figure out who these Lions really are in 2017.

But before we get to tonight’s match, there is a whole pile of soccer happenings to discuss.

Bendik, Spector on Preliminary Gold Cup Roster

Bruce Arena submitted a 40-man preliminary roster for the 2017 Gold Cup and it includes Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik and defender Jonathan Spector. While it’s nice to see a pair of Lions named to the 40-man roster, there’s no guarantee either will make the final 23-man roster which must be turned in by June 27. Also making the list was former OCSC striker — from the USL days — Dom Dwyer. Bendik is one of six keepers on the 40-man roster, along with Brad Guzan, Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Hamid, Tim Howard, and Sean Johnson. There are 12 defenders on the initial roster.

Orlando City’s USOC Match Moved

Orlando City moved its fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match-up against Miami FC to Wednesday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m. This game will take place while I’m on a plane to Las Vegas to see my in-laws, so it’s not ideal for me, but hopefully it works better for you. I would have enjoyed seeing this game on June 13, but now I’ll have to hope it’s on YouTube so I can catch the replay.

If you haven’t been to the gorgeous new Orlando City Stadium yet, this would be a great opportunity to go, since there should be plenty of tickets available. U.S. Open Cup matches in the midweek are a tough sell for clubs. We can only hope that OCSC doesn’t repeat last season’s mistake of trying to get extra people to the game by not making it available to stream online. This hurts fans who don’t live in the area or who can’t make it over from outlying areas on a weeknight and probably doesn’t sell more than a few extra tickets, as the club found out last year with an announced crowd of just 3,162 for its home match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Orlando Pride Break Boston

Marta scored from the spot on the franchise’s first-ever penalty and Jasmyne Spencer scored off a Camila assist to lead the Orlando Pride to a 2-0 win over the Boston Breakers in the rain. The Pride are 2-0-1 at home this season and unfortunately have to go back on the road next but the home matches will come more frequently from here on out and it’s nice to see the Pride building momentum in the middle of the season.

Barry, Ellis-Hayden Lift OCB to Road Win

The young Lions’ trip to Pittsburgh got off to a rocky start as former OCSC player Corey Hertzog put the Riverhounds ahead, 1-0. But Hadji Barry scored a goal and then helped Zach Ellis-Hayden do the same as Orlando City B came back to win, 2-1. The young Lions have won both trips to picturesque Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh in the last two seasons and the win lifted OCB back above the playoff line in the USL’s Eastern Conference.

USMNT Draws Venezuela in Friendly

In a Hex tuneup out in Sandy, UT, last night, the USMNT had to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with visiting Venezuela at Rio Tinto Stadium. Christian Pulisic (who else?) brought the Yanks back after José Manuel Velázquez put Venezuela ahead off a second ball in off a corner kick. The U.S. had chances but couldn’t quite find the winner. The match served as a tuneup for Hex games coming up against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico. The Yanks host T&T in Denver on Thursday night.

United States U-20s Fall in Extra Time

Tommy Redding’s U-20 World Cup run is over after a 2-1 loss to Venezuela. The U.S. U-20s were overrun in the quarterfinals by Venezuela late last night and were lucky to last past 90 minutes and into extra time before conceding. Venezuela had a first-half goal overturned by the video assistant referee, hit the crossbar twice in the second half and missed numerous golden scoring chances in normal time — or watched U.S. goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann acrobatically deny shot after shot — as the teams played scoreless through regulation.

The U.S. got very little sight of goal but Erik Palmer-Brown had a free header for the game-winner from six yards out and just missed the target at the death. Adalberto Penaranda scored the game winner just minutes into the first half of extra time and La Vinotinto added a second off a corner late before Jeremy Ebobisse became the first player to score a goal against Venezuela in the tournament. Redding was an unused sub in the match.

Real Madrid: Champions of Europe (Again)

Real Madrid got two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and snapped a 1-1 halftime deadlock to comfortably win the 2017 UEFA Champions League final over Juventus, 4-1. Mario Mandžukić of Juventus scored the goal of the tournament to tie it before halftime, although that will give the Italian side little solace after coming so close to the title.

Free Kicks
  • Those born on this date include Gunsmoke and McCloud actor Dennis Weaver (1924), Dr. Ruth Westheimer (1928), John Barrymore (1932), Bruce Dern (1936), Freddy Fender (1937), “Mama” Michelle Phillips (1944), Keith David (1956), El DeBarge (1961), Xavier McDaniel (1963), Gotham actor Sean Pertwee (1964), Al B. Sure! (1968), Noah Wyle (1971), hockey’s Derian Hatcher (1972), Russell Brand and Angelina Jolie (both in 1975), (another) Gotham actor Robin Lord Taylor (1978), former Arsenal and Sunderland man Emmanuel Eboué (1983), and German footballer Lukas Podolski (1985).

That’s all my time this morning, folks. Stick around for full coverage of tonight’s match. I leave you with a video of Robin van Persie destroying children.