Good morning, Mane Landers! It’s Saturday, which means the weekend is in full swing and also that we have reached another terrific triple game day. First, at 4 p.m., Orlando Pride will take on the Boston Breakers up north. Then at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will leave town to take on the USL East’s top team, Charlotte Independence. Last, and certainly not least, Orlando City will host Columbus Crew SC, in what might end up being the most important game of the season, at 7:30 p.m.
As you can see, there’s lots of action today, so it would be fitting to start off with some action-packed links.
Orlando City’s Attack Should Strike Fear for Columbus Crew
According to our sister website Massive Report, even though Orlando City has only 25 goals on the season — the third worst offense — the Lions still have a very potent attack which should scare the Crew. City’s attack gets its potential strength from its several quality attacking players such as Dom Dwyer, Cyle Larin, and Yoshi Yotún. Though they have yet to gel, tonight would be the perfect time to make a statement as Columbus Crew currently sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, only five points ahead of the Lions but over the crucial playoff line.
Orlando City on List of Clubs That Can’t Afford to Miss the Playoffs
This is Orlando City’s third year as an MLS club, so of course the fans have wanted to make the playoffs by this time. According to mlssoccer.com, that fact alone qualifies the Lions to be on a list of the most desperate teams to make this year’s MLS playoffs. To be frank, I disagree on multiple levels but mostly because Jason Kreis and Niki Budalic have already made some really good signings that seem to be setting up for next season. Portland Timbers came in at number one on the list due to the fact that they have several very talented players in their prime, yet they linger on the edge of the playoff spots in a weak year for the Western Conference.
Morgan-Marta Partnership Make the Pride Serious Playoff Contenders
After a disappointing first season for the Pride, they didn’t start off this campaign particularly well either, but with the addition of world-class player Marta and return of Alex Morgan to the squad they now look like serious playoff contenders. Their partnership up top has truly elevated the team to an exciting new level of play.
The team has also shown a new level of cohesion somewhat ironically exemplified by a missed penalty. In their last game — against Sky Blue FC — the Pride won a penalty kick when they were already on a five-goal lead, with Marta and Morgan both on hat tricks. Yet Marta let the less qualified Maddy Evans take the kick, as it was her final game before retirement.
"This is one of the difficult teams when you’re bringing a new team together," Pride coach Tom Sermanni said. "It's okay to say, ‘Let’s get this great player and that great player,’ but it takes time for players to work together and to know the timing of things and the rhythm of things. And we are beginning to see that happening, that players are now reading other players, and that's what is making the difference. So when you get an Alex Morgan and a Marta getting on the same page, you get an unbelievable potent strike force."
Antonio Nocerino’s Experience Should Come in Handy for Playoff Push
Antonio Nocerino is a player who has been criticized so much in his time with Orlando City that sometimes you forget his background. He is currently in his 14th year and has played at the highest level in world football. Now his experience is needed more than ever with the team in a grind to get over that infamous playoff line. He acknowledges that teams go through different stages, so lets all hope that tonight will signal a transition from slump to a good run of wins. Also, shout out to Austin David who wrote this article. He will be missed here at The Mane Land.
- Here’s a look at the beautiful house Dom Dwyer and Sydney Leroux are selling in Kansas City.
- Kaká believes AC Milan are ready to fight for the Scudetto this year after having "bought very good players with good spirit."
- Two-time World Cup champion and Florida native Christie Pearce may retire after a plethora of injuries have brought her season to an end.
- LA Galaxy’s captain Jelle Van Damme has transferred to Royal Antwerp FC to be in his home country of Belgium with his family.
That’s going to do it for today’s edition of Lion Links. Have a wonderful day and good luck to all three Orlando teams in action today. Check back throughout the day for full coverage.