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Lion Links: 7/8/17

Kaká makes the All-Star Fan XI, Richie Laryea seeing more minutes, Steph Catley is an unsung hero, OCB set for Pittsburgh, and more!

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers! Today brings us another eventful Saturday with three games to keep an eye on. At 3:30 p.m. the Orlando Pride will play away against a struggling Washington Spirit side. At 4:30 p.m. the USMNT will take on Panama in what should be an exciting Gold Cup match. Then, at 7:30 p.m., Orlando City B will play the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, at home in a match which could be pivotal in the playoff race.

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a very intriguing day, but as always you can start it off with some intriguing links.

Kaká Makes the MLS All-Star XI

Kaká has captained the MLS All-Star team for the last two years and now has another chance as the fans have picked him once again to be in the starting XI. Last year, Cyle Larin was also picked as an MLS All-Star, and can still be chosen by either Chicago Fire Head Coach Veljko Paunović or MLS Commissioner Don Garber. I’d say Jonathan Spector also has a great shot at making the team.

Richie Laryea Stating Case for More Minutes

Canadian midfielder Richie Laryea is starting to see first-team minutes and has brought energy and dynamic play into the Orlando City attack in his few short appearances. Those minutes are valuable in the development of a young player and could either pay dividends for Orlando City in the future or show other teams what he can do in order to spark a trade.

“In his last three performances...I really think he brings an energy, has a real energy about what he’s wanting to try and get accomplished out there,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said, noting that particular quality lacked among the rest of the players. “The amount of ground that he covered and the intensity that he was making his runs I think was excellent. You keep performing like that, you’ll keep getting opportunities.”

Steph Catley: Orlando Pride’s Unsung Hero

The Orlando Pride may have lost 1-0 to the Chicago Red Stars last weekend, but that doesn’t take away from left back Steph Catley’s fantastic performance. Catley’s performance earned her’s unsung hero of the week. Catley has put in several good outings for the Pride before, but this one stuck out for her calm play and involvement in the attack along with Jasmyne Spencer on the left side of the field.

Orlando City B to Face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Orlando City B is in the middle of a three-game home stand, and will play tonight against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The game should be a tense affair, as the two teams sit right next to each other on the table, both right under the playoff line. Unfortunately for the young Lions, they will have to do without their assist leader, Pierre Da Silva, due to a three-game suspension he attained in the team’s last match against Cincinnati FC. Fortunately for OCB, it did beat the Riverhounds 2-1 in the last match-up earlier this season.

U-17/18 Team Bounced from Academy Playoff

A goal at the end of normal time broke a tense 1-1 deadlock and allowed the Colorado Rapids U-17/18 team to sneak out of Orlando City Stadium with a 2-1 win. Despite the loss, it was the furthest run in club history for the young(er) Lions. The No. 2 seed in the tournament, Orlando City finished its most successful season to date, with a 24-5-1 record and a three-game sweep of all three group stage matches to advance to the knockout round. Isaque Cuoto put City up 16 minutes in but the visitors leveled in the 27th minute. That score held up until the 87th minute, when Rhys De Sota scored a heartbreaking goal.

“Obviously disappointment is the biggest emotion at the moment but there’s a lot of pride in how they’ve done this season, how far they’ve actually gone,” Academy Director and U-17/18s head coach David Longwell said in a club press release. “They’ve never done this before. They’ve got a heck of a lot of character. Hopefully they’ll learn from it so they can play here for the MLS team at some point and they can learn from this experience.”

Props to the U-17/18 Lions for a fantastic season.

USWNT to Play Two Friendlies in September

The USWNT is set to play two home friendlies in September against New Zealand. The matches shouldn’t affect the Orlando Pride, barring any injuries, because the two dates are in an international break.

“The fall friendly matches are an important transition period to 2018 and we want to get the most out of them by continuing to play teams with World Cup and Olympic experience like New Zealand,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. “Denver has been a fun place to play for our team over the years, but we also enjoy going to cities where we haven’t been in a while, like Cincinnati. The fans there have shown extraordinary support for their USL team and we’re looking forward to an enthusiastic crowd for our match as well.”

Brek Shea Happy at His New Club

Brek Shea was a bit of a polarizing figure at Orlando City as he never really delivered as much as anyone hoped he would. This most likely led to his trade to the Vancouver Whitecaps, but don’t feel bad for Shea. He says he likes his new team “a lot better than Orlando’s team.” He also added, “It's pretty clear that I'm an attacking player, so I'm enjoying my role higher up the field here.” Whether you are bitter at his comments or are happy for him, just try to be semi-civil in the comments section.

Free Kicks

That’s going to do it for today’s Lion Links. Have a fantastic Saturday and enjoy the games!