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Lion Links: 3/4/18

Lions open the season vs. D.C., Pride take on UCF in preseason action, three Pride players named in World XI shortlist, and more.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Hey there, Mane Landers, happy Sunday. This is my first official foray into the world of sports journalism, and I couldn’t be luckier to have the opportunity to join an established team of writers, editors, and most importantly; Orlando City supporters. I can’t wait to tackle the 2018 season with you, and I’m ecstatic that I’ll have the ability to share my experiences and opinions with the same passionate fans that I stand with and cheer beside at Orlando City Stadium.

Orlando hosts one of the most dedicated and inclusive MLS communities in the nation and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. I am proud to be a Lion. Or should I say that I’ve got Lion Pride? Or perhaps that I’ve got Pride and I ain’t lyin’? Forget it; let’s go with all of the above.

I hope everyone is recovering well from last night’s season opener against D.C. United. I’m still struggling to find my voice…and I didn’t even leave my condo. My neighbors must hate me.

Anyway, here’s your Sunday serving of Lion Links:

More Opening Day Drama for Orlando City

The Lions have developed a strange opening day tradition of giving up the lead and then waiting to the death of the match to equalize. There was Kaká’s free kick in 2015, the two stoppage-time strikes in 2016, and, after a break last year to christen the new stadium, now we’ve got Stéfano Pinho’s late-game magic that led to a 1-1 draw against D.C. United in the 2018 opener. It was a crazy game filled with video review decisions that went the visitors’ way, lots of sick dribbling and nutmegging from Justin Meram, and a whole lot of new Lions. Here’s what you need to know:

Don’t forget to check back later this morning for Ben Miller’s five takeaways from the match and we’ll also have a photo gallery from Nick Leyva.

Orando Pride Down UCF in Preseason Action, 3-0

The Orlando Pride have only one preseason match remaining after posting a winning 3-nil result against the University of Central Florida. Sydney Leroux netted twice in the opening 21 minutes and Christine Nairn also got on the score sheet with a beautiful curling free kick. The Pride seem to be hitting their stride at just the right time with the season opener less than a month away, and with half the starting roster still away on international duty. Leroux has scored three times in the last two matches; be on the lookout for the USWNT star to be a constant goal-scoring threat this season. The Pride’s final preseason match will be at the University of South Florida on Thursday.

Here’s Nairn’s fantastic free kick for the Pride’s final goal:

Three Orlando Pride Players Named in the World XI Shortlist

The Women’s World XI is a prestigious distinction awarded only to the most transcendent and awe-striking talents in women’s football. Three of our Pride players have broken into the shortlist for this honor: Marta Vieira da Silva (Brazil), Alex Morgan (USA), and Alanna Kennedy (Australia). Both Marta and Morgan were named in last year’s World XI. The governing body and worldwide players’ union, FIFPro, will be announcing the World XI on Thursday, which is also International Women’s Day.

VAR Approved by IFAB for Use at World Cup Finals

Regardless of where your opinion falls on Video Assistant Referees (especially after last night), one thing is now certain: they’ll be used during this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals, hosted by Russia. Long considered a controversial injection of technology into the beautiful game, video review has been fervently debated for decades. Traditionalists argue that they prevent the natural flow of the game and believe that they jeopardize the authority of the officiating crew. Others think that we might as well take advantage of the technological advances to ensure a fairly officiated match. All eyes will be set curiously toward Russia this summer to examine, scrutinize, or praise the contentious decision.

Potential World-Class Players Interested in David Beckham’s Miami Franchise

We should be keeping an eye on David Beckham and his Miami franchise — a very, very close eye. The word out of Miami, and Becks’ mouth himself, is that the club is generating interest from notable players worldwide that have competed with or against the former LA Galaxy skipper. Let that sink in for a moment as I briefly list sides that Beckham has been a part of: Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, PSG, LA Galaxy, and the English national team. Miami’s new franchise won’t begin MLS play until at least 2020, so we shouldn’t be anticipating any legitimate transfer news for at least another year, but we’ll want to monitor the situation to our south.

Free Kicks
  • Check out the new Lion’s Den club store at Orlando City Stadium, located near Gate A!
  • Our club’s first-ever captain, Kaká, provided some inspiration before the team’s season opener yesterday:
  • The American Women’s U-20 national team recorded a 1-nil win against France yesterday. Former Orlando City ECNL player Mandy McGlynn was between the sticks and achieved her first U-20 shutout. Congratulations, Mandy!
  • 18-year-old American striker Tim Weah, son of legendary striker George Weah, made his professional debut for PSG yesterday.
  • And check out this fantastic volley from Saint Louis FC’s Albert Dikwa, a former OCB player:

That’s all that was fit to print on this lovely Sunday, but as always, stay tuned for all Orlando City and Pride news. And hey, there are only about 150 hours until the Lions host Minnesota United!