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Lion Links: 8/3/17

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Orlando City B hosts Harrisburg, MLS All-Stars take Real Madrid to penalties, Pride’s Pressley is transformed, Neymar to PSG, and more.

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MLS: All-Star Game David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, Lion Nation. We’re just one day away from the weekend and two days removed from the Lions invading the French part of Canada and the Pride returning to the pitch to take on Chicago in search of that elusive first win against the Red Stars. OCB just played last night (more on that below) but the young Lions will also get back to it on Saturday at Cincinnati.

But there’s still soccer to be played tonight while we wait. Up to seven Pride players could be in action on the final match day of the inaugural Tournament of Nations tonight, with Brazil meeting Australia in the early game, and the United States taking on Japan in the nightcap.

Let’s burn some minutes between now and then with a few morning links.

OCB Unbeaten in Six but Draws Fifth Straight

Orlando City B is good at keeping teams from scoring. The young Lions have conceded just twice in six games during their current 1-0-5 unbeaten streak. The problem is that OCB is bad at scoring goals, having found the net just three times in that same span. The team has gone goal-less in two straight matches as it drew 0-0 against the City Islanders last night, just days after a scoreless draw at Charleston. The good news is that the Lions created more chances after Pierre Da Silva returned from suspension. But the ball has to go home. Is it too good for its home?!

MLS All-Stars Draw Real Madrid but Lose Penalty Shootout

Dom Dwyer’s first goal since being traded from Sporting Kansas City to Orlando City didn’t come in a league game. Dwyer scored to pull the MLS All-Stars level with Real Madrid, 1-1, but the Spanish team won a penalty shootout, 4-2. Here’s Dom’s goal:

Dwyer was one of two MLS players who failed to score in the penalty shootout, however (Gio dos Santos hit the bar), after having his attempt saved. Kaká showed well, nearly getting a first-half assist after setting up David Villa, but the NYCFC man had his shot saved by Keylor Navas from point-blank range. Here’s how Villa ruined a perfectly good assist from the captain:

And, in case you went to bed early Tuesday night, the MLS Homegrown Team scored a stoppage-time equalizer to draw the Chivas de Guadalajara U-20 team, 2-2. Chicago Fire product Djordje Mihailovic also scored for the MLS Homegrowns, who are showing technical improvements.

Pride’s Pressley Reinvented Herself for 2017

If you’ve watched the Orlando Pride these first two seasons in club history, there’s no doubt one player’s improvement from 2016 to 2017 stands out above the rest — defender Toni Pressley. Her play on the field is the result of a physical and mental transformation that started this past off-season. Pressley began a detailed running and lifting program in the off-season in addition to going vegan to transform herself physically. She also has turned to hypnosis videos to help with relaxation, concentration, and confidence. These life changes have paid off this season for the Florida State product, who claimed a starting spot on the back line and scored her first NWSL goal.

Unhappy Ending in Atlanta

Orlando City fans had a disappointing end to the game on Saturday in Atlanta when Hector Villalba scored two minutes into stoppage time to tie the game. But three fans had an even worse end to the day, as they were arrested for damaging metal bleachers at Bobby Dodd Stadium by jumping up and down on them.

The three men were charged with damage to property, according to a Georgia Tech incident report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cage and Pandya were booked into the Fulton County Jail. Ambrose was not.

Without having been there, I can only speculate what happened, but many people jump on bleachers in an attempt to make more noise. People jump on the aluminum flooring in the safe standing section at Orlando City Stadium to do just that. But when you do it and the seat breaks...well, there are consequences. I asked about the situation prior to last night’s Orlando City B match and a club spokesman said Orlando City was aware of the arrests but had no official comment. However, whether intentional destruction or not, it’s always important to represent our club in the best possible manner, so thinking through any possible consequences in advance is always a good idea.

Neymar Saga Nears an End

The long transfer saga of Barcelona winger Neymar seems to be coming to a close, as the player informed the Spanish club on Wednesday of his desire to leave. Now it’s all up to PSG to pay the sizable escape clause in his contract to sign the Brazilian. Lionel Messi bade farewell to his teammate on Instagram.

"It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with you friend Neymar," Messi wrote, alongside a video montage of the pair's highlights as team-mates and friends.

"I wish you luck in this new stage of your life. I love you."

Free Kicks
  • FC Cincinnati’s magical run in the U.S. Open Cup continued last night with a 1-0 win over Miami FC. Cincy is the first non-MLS team to reach the semifinals since 2011. Good riddance, Florida-based NASL team!
  • With VAR coming to MLS this week, Four Four Two’s Andrew King picked out five moments from the first half of the season that would have been different with video replay, including Rafa Ramos’ red card against Chicago.
  • Speaking of Chicago, not only did that city host this year’s MLS All-Star Game, but it’s becoming a hotbed for European clubs seeking to expand their worldwide brands.
  • If you hate the triple-stripe Adidas look, you’re not going to like this story but the athletic apparel company is extending its MLS deal and throwing boat loads of money at the league. Adidas will be on MLS kits through 2024.
  • More and more African-born players are finding success by moving to MLS.
  • Those born on this date include longtime Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy (1925), legendary crooner Tony Bennett (1926), wrestler Haystacks Calhoun (1934), actor Martin Sheen (1940), noted businesswoman and jailbird Martha Stewart (1941), hockey’s Marcel Dionne (1951), Alan Parsons Project saxophonist Ian Bairnson (1953), football’s Todd Christensen (1956), Scrubs and Office Space actor John McGinley (1959), Metallica’s James Hetfield (1963), Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin (1964), baseball’s Rod Beck (1968), Tom Brady (1977), Lost actress Evangeline Lilly (1979), U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte (1984), and Rams running back Todd Gurley (1994).

That’s all my time this morning, folks. Enjoy your Thursday, and check back with The Mane Land tonight for coverage of the final round of the Tournament of Nations.