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Lion Links: 3/1/18

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Spector succeeds Kaká as captain, four Lions are out for the season opener, the SheBelieves Cup kicks off, and more.

MLS: FC Dallas at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers. It’s the beginning of March and it’s a beautiful Thursday morning — in fact, it’s the last Thursday morning before the 2018 MLS season kicks off. So let’s rejoice in the fact that we have only two days left before we finally get to see Orlando City face D.C. United at Orlando City Stadium.

Before we begin the Links for today, I’d like to wish Jonathan Spector a very happy 32nd birthday and showcase one of the best goals of his career against the Montreal Impact last June:

Spector Named Lions’ Captain for 2018

Speaking of Spector, this had to be a great early birthday gift for the center back. Spector was announced as the team captain for 2018 by Orlando City early on Wednesday. Spector should serve as an amazing captain for the Lions as well as the focal point at the core of the Lions’ defense. He will also provide a much-needed veteran presence for the young players at the club such as Josué Colmán, Chris Mueller, and Victor “PC” Giro.

Spector started every one of the 25 games he played in last season, so he is definitely a reliable player that the Lions can count on game in and game out. He also spoke about being the captain of the team:

These are starting to feel like Spector Links rather than Lion Links.

Four Lions Out for Season Opener, Sané a “Maybe”

For those who were wondering what the formation may look like Saturday, these injury updates may make it a bit easier to answer that question:

Dom Dwyer was obviously not playing after suffering a quad strain. Uri Rosell is still getting back into form after a long break from playing. Colmán is still recovering from his quad contusion and Dillon Powers is also struggling with an ankle injury.

Lamine Sané is a “maybe” due to the fact that he hasn’t been with the club very long and just recently started training — or possibly because Werder Bremen hasn’t received all of the necessary documents to finalize the deal — but we are all hoping he will get a chance to play alongside Spector on Saturday.

These injuries also shed some light on the topic of who will be on the field Saturday. Mueller may very well get a chance to get some time as well as Stéfano Pinho, who will likely start in place of Dwyer. Cristian Higuita may play as well. At least Richie Laryea returned to training this week.

Pride Drop Preseason Opener

The Orlando Pride got their preseason underway last night despite missing nine regular players to international duty (more on that below). Tom Sermanni took what was left of his squad — some of which played against a hundred kids the night before — and motored up to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. The Seminoles prevailed, 3-2 on a late goal but the match was noteworthy for producing Sydney Leroux’s first goal with Orlando. It was the Pride’s first-ever preseason loss, but at one point Sermanni put seven trialists on the field at once. This was not a normal match.

USWNT Set to Begin SheBelieves Cup play vs. Germany

The U.S. Women’s National Team will begin play in the SheBelieves Cup tonight vs. Germany. The match-up will pit the top two teams in terms of the FIFA women’s world rankings. The U.S. will be led by the Orlando Pride’s own Alex Morgan, who is competing in her third SheBelieves Cup. The SheBelieves Cup hosts the U.S., Germany, France, and England, all women’s national teams in the top six of the current FIFA women’s rankings.

Look for our SheBelieves Cup preview coming this afternoon at 2 p.m. ET talking about the event itself as well as what to watch, how to watch, and everything SheBelieves Cup.

Algarve Cup Action Gets Off to a Fun Start

The Algarve Cup, a women’s tournament hosted by the Portuguese Football Federation, began play yesterday with some intense action. Here are the results of each game on day one:

  • Portugal defeated China after an 83rd-minute red card led to an 85th-minute goal from Carole Costa
  • South Korea defeated Russia 3-1, with all three goals coming in the second half.
  • Japan was thrashed by the Netherlands 6-2, giving up goals in spurts.
  • Denmark and Iceland drew in a scoreless battle.
  • Australia defeated Norway 4-3 with a 90’+5 goal from Larissa Crummer.
  • Sweden defeated Canada 3-1 in impressive fashion.

The Orlando Pride players in action at the Algarve Cup include Nádia Gomes for Portugal, Alanna Kennedy and Emily Vvn Egmond for Australia, and Shelina Zadorsky for Canada.

Gomes did not play for Portugal against China, while Kennedy and Van Egmond both started for Australia. Zadorsky came on as a late sub for Canada and, unfortunately, her turnover led to the insurance goal in the loss to Sweden.

Jose Aja Officially Joins Vancouver Whitecaps

Former Lion Jose Aja — who was recently acquired by the Vancouver Whitecaps — joined the club and spoke about the new environment:

Free Kicks

That’s about it, fellas.

Before I leave, I’d like to recommend some shows on Netflix for you all that could pass the time between now and Saturday’s opener:

  • Everything Sucks: A show about a freshman in the ’90s who is trying to find his place at his new school.
  • First Team: Juventus: A behind-the-scenes depiction of different storylines at the Italian superpower club Juventus.
  • Altered Carbon: A rebel brought back from the dead has a mission to fulfill in the future where the rich use the poor as pawns in their game.
  • Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee: The name speaks for itself.

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday, rest up tomorrow, and get ready for Saturday against D.C. United! That game, for all who may not know, starts at 7:30 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium.