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Lion Links: 7/19/17

Tony Rocha is ready, Orlando Pride players continue to win awards, we recap Gold Cup and All-Star news, and more.

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MLS: Philadelphia Union at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to (winning) Wednesday, or let’s at least hope it is as the USMNT prepares to take on El Salvador in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Everyone here at The Mane Land HQ is also starting to get ready for Friday’s game against Atlanta United. However, before all that, let’s dive head first into today’s Lion Links.

Rocha Working Toward Return

After getting signed by Orlando City last season, Tony Rocha saw himself getting big minutes in the 2017 MLS season. However, after getting injured in the final preseason game, the midfielder has seen his time limited in the senior side, and has had to be content turning out for OCB. Now though, after some impressive performances for the reserve side, he is ready to make the step back up.

Pressley Pride

There were many memorable moments in the Orlando Pride’s dominant 4-1 win against FC Kansas City on Saturday, however, there were none more memorable than defender Toni Pressley’s absolute golazo from outside the box. The sweetly hit strike, which put the Pride up 3-1, was Pressley’s first NWSL goal and it now has another reason to be memorable in that it has won NWSL’s Week 13 Goal of the Week honor. A great moment for the former Florida State Seminole from Melbourne.

Bledsoe Makes It a Double

In what is becoming a recurring theme in Wednesday’s Lion Links, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe has won the NWSL Save of the Week award. The shot-stopper won the award for her save on forward Brittany Ratcliffe’s curving shot, which Bledsoe saw late and did well to get down to stop. With Ashlyn Harris close to returning from injury, Bledsoe is trying to make the decision about who will start in goal as difficult as possible for Head Coach Tom Sermanni.

Gold Cup Quarterfinals

The knockout stages of the 2017 Gold Cup start today, and with Orlando City forward Cyle Larin being called up to the Canadian Men’s National Team, our sister blog Waking The Red takes a look at how Larin could be used by Octavio Zambrano and we took a look yesterday at what that means for Orlando City in Friday’s game against Atlanta United.

MLS All-Star Additions

After not being selected for the knockout stages of the Gold Cup, forwards Dom Dwyer and Jozy Altidore and midfielder Kellyn Acosta have been added to the roster for the upcoming MLS All-Star game against Real Madrid. Altidore was the selection of MLS All-Star head coach Veljko Paunovic, while Dwyer and Acosta were selected by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The new additions will line up with Kaká and co. on Wednesday, Aug. 2 in Chicago. No additional Lions will be joining Kaká.

Free Kicks
  • Former Orlando City CEO turns up in Vegas to get soccer underway in Sin City.
  • Everyone’s favorite soccer journalist Kurtis Larson breaks down the top 10 toughest MLS road trips. (Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section.)
  • FourFourTwo breaks down the best seven Generation Adidas players of Major League Soccer.
  • Some reports suggest that Paris Saint-Germain are ready to meet Neymar’s €220 million release clause from Barcelona, however the vice president of the club says Neymar will be staying.
  • Chelsea boss Antonio Conte signed a new two-year contract.
  • Spanish Soccer Federation in turmoil as an anti-corruption investigation sees Federation President Angel Maria Villar arrested.

That’s all for today, folks. Stay tuned for our How to Watch for tonight’s game and keep coming back as we continue our preparations for Friday’s “rivalry” encounter against Atlanta United, which has already started to get a little spicy with reports that this billboard has been spotted near downtown O-Town.