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Lion Links: 3/22/18

Pride acquire Swedish defender, Mason Stajduhar continues his battle with cancer, Ellis names her squad for Mexico friendlies, and more.

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

Hey Mane Landers! Hope you are all enjoying your Thursday. Sadly we have no Orlando City soccer this weekend, but we are just two days away from the beginning of Orlando Pride’s season as they host Utah Royals FC this Saturday.

Before we start the links, I wanted to wish Lamine Sané a happy 31st birthday. To celebrate his birthday, here is one of his best moments from March 15, 2015, exactly a week before his birthday against Paris-Saint German when he scored a fabulous header:

Orlando Pride Acquires Lotta Ökvist from Houston Dash

The Orlando Pride made a trade just a few days before their season opener against Utah Royals FC, acquiring Swedish defender Lotta Ökvist from the Houston Dash. The Pride are sending their third-round draft pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft. Ökvist, 21, featured in 25 matchesduring the Swedish Damallsvenskan season, playing for Pitea IF, a division II side in Sweden. She also led her country’s U-19 squad to the 2015 UEFA U-19 Women’s Championship. Ökvist adds young talent and depth to Orlando Pride as they look to make a push for the title this year.

Mason Stajduhar and His Battle with Bone Cancer

At the age of 19, a very young age at that, Mason Stajduhar found out he had localized Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a specific kind of bone cancer. His then teammate Kevin Alston, who suffered with leukemia in 2013, was one of his biggest supporters. Many from around MLS and the USMNT also contacted Mason and gave their support at the time, including fellow goalkeeper Tim Howard. Stajudhar’s family has a history of cancer, so his family was very supportive because they knew what it was like. Stajudhar, however, said he feels he’s peaking. Stajudhar is still fighting his battle and appears to be winning and he hopes to be back on the pitch soon. You can read the full story here.

Jill Ellis Calls Up Pride’s Morgan, Harris for Mexico Friendlies

Jill Ellis named her 22-player squad for the USWNT’s two friendlies coming up in April against Mexico. Of the 22 players on the squad, 20 participated in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this month, in which the U.S. came out victorious.

Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan once again made the squad, as well as Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. Regulars such as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara are also on the squad. One notable exception is Christen Press. Ellis talked about her reason for not including the Houston Dash holdout.

This match-up in April could be a preview of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament this upcoming fall. Ellis has chosen her squad; let’s see what it does against Mexico.

Josué Colmán is 100 Percent and Ready to Contribute

Paraguayan midfielder Josué Colmán is finally healthy and ready to contribute to Orlando City getting back on track. The 19-year-old was hoping to make an immediate impact on Orlando City, but his quad contusion did not allow him to do so. The only action Colmán has seen was about 14 minutes of action in the 2-0 loss against New York City FC.

The likelihood of Colmán being inserted into the starting lineup is on the uprise, as his attacking mind will help spark what has been an otherwise stagnant offensive attack, with the Lions scoring only two goals in three games. Clearly, Colmán’s teammates are eager to see him on the pitch more.

“Obviously, we’re going to get Colmán some more minutes now,” Johnson said. “I think he’s going to help us, big-time.”

Midfielder Sacha Kljestan added, “The quicker we can get him up to speed, the better for him and ourselves.”

With Colmán’s return, Orlando City gets one step closer to having its true starting 11 on the pitch, which can only help the club’s chance of finally getting its first win of the season.

Free Kicks

That’s about all for today, everyone! Hope you enjoy your Thursday as spring comes full swing and both the Orlando Pride and Orlando City will be playing in the coming weeks. Have a good day!