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Lion Links: 8/26/17

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Josh Saunders done for the year, Kaká’s night on The Wall, Fantember almost here, and more.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy triple match day, proponents of purple power! All three of our beloved Orlando squads are in action on this day — two away from home and one in the cozy confines of Orlando City Stadium.

The Pride get things started with a 3:30 national TV appearance on the road at FC Kansas City. Catch that game on Lifetime while you’re preparing for the MLS match tonight. The young Lions of OCB go into the jaws of the proverbial dragon at 7:30 p.m. at Louisville Slugger Field to take on Louisville City FC — the Eastern Conference’s top team, which has netted five goals three times already in the month of August.

And the main course here in Orlando tonight is Orlando City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 p.m. at the Purple Palace.

With all of that to come, we’d best dive right into today’s links.

Saunders Out for the Year

Joe Bendik’s backup is finished for 2017. Josh Saunders has only a first team appearance in U.S. Open Cup and a USL start this season, but he won’t get any more than that. Saunders has a cervical disc herniation in his neck that will require season-ending surgery. It’s a tough break for the two-time MLS Cup Champion, although in truth he would be unlikely to see any more action in 2017 if Bendik stays healthy. However, it is a tough break for OCB, which will likely lose Earl Edwards Jr. to the first team for the remainder of the season. Edwards has had a USL Best XI-type season thus far in 2017, with nine shutouts. Jake Fenlason will take over at OCB but the young Lions may soon get some help from the recovering Mason Stajduhar.

Kaká’s Taste of Supporter Life

Orlando City captain Kaká used the opportunity afforded to him by his suspension last Saturday night to truly walk in the shoes of the club’s supporters. The Brazilian manned The Wall, joined the drum line, participated in chants, and generally learned what it is that Lions fans go through during 90-plus minutes of MLS action.

“The idea to come to the Wall came up, because I wanted to watch the game from that position to see and to feel what our supporters feel during the game and to understand better what is their situation. So, I had this opportunity to not play and I went there.”

I think it’s worthwhile for all players to take advantage of this kind of situation. You never want guys to be suspended, but the 35-year-old gained the perspective of what we go through in the stands.

September is Orlando City Fan Appreciation Month

We’re only a few days away from “Fantember.” That’s a silly name, but it’s not silly for Orlando City to salute the fans that have supported the Lions throughout a third frustrating MLS season. It’s the second straight year of the initiative, in which the club finds ways to give back to its fans through daily prize giveaways, partner discounts and the chance to earn game day surprises by attending matches in September.

The first week of prizes has been released (seen below), which includes two round-trip tickets to Mexico City on JetBlue, an Orlando Pride match VIP experience, an Orlando City game-worn jersey, tickets to the Orlando City Foundation Gala, and much more. In addition, fans can enter to win the grand prize - an Orlando City VIP match experience, which includes VIP tickets to the Lions’ Oct. 15 match against Columbus Crew SC, an exclusive pregame experience, behind-the-scenes Stadium tour, lunch at Lion’s Pride Orlando and a $100 adidas merchandise credit for use at Lion’s Pride Orlando.

Aurelien Collin Buys a Kid a New Wheelchair

Former Lions center back Aurelien Collin led the charge to buy a young Red Bulls fan a new motorized wheelchair. Kevin Mota, a 21-year-old Red Bulls season ticket holder, had set up a GoFundMe to pay for the new $5,000 chair. Aurelien was tipped off by a supporters group about it and he rallied his teammates to donate, more than covering the cost of the new wheelchair. No wonder he’s Kaká’s buddy.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City Development Academies are set to begin play.
  • Former Lions center back David Mateos has caught on with third division Spanish side Real Murcia.
  • Former Lion Aurelien Collin led the charge to buy a young Red Bulls fan a new motorized wheelchair. No wonder he’s Kaká’s buddy.
  • Get to know FC Kansas City’s Maegan Kelly, who has a goal against the Orlando Pride this year already and will be facing Marta, Morgan, & Co. this afternoon.
  • Among those born on this date are Mother Teresa (1910), basketball’s Tom Heinsohn (1934), Geraldine Ferraro (1935), Stan Van Gundy (1959), Branford Marsalis (1960), Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson (1966), Melissa McCarthy (1970), former NFL running back Jamal Lewis (1979), Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin (1980), Chris Pine (1980), baseball’s David Price (1985), and Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (1988).

That’s all my time for today. Check back throughout the day for full coverage of Orlando City, the Pride, and OCB both pre- and post-game. Plus, I’ve got an interview with new Orlando midfielder Dillon Powers coming up later this morning.