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Lion Links: 4/21/18

Ambassador Kljestan, Pride’s Aussies in cup final, #WengerOut will become reality, and more.

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy match day, folks! The Lions are back in the purple palace tonight to take on the pesky San Jose Earthquakes, who have simply refused to let us have nice things over the past three years. Is the fourth time the charm?

It’ll be the first time the two teams have met at Orlando City Stadium and the fourth different venue to host the Lions and Quakes, joining Levi’s Stadium, Camping World Stadium, and Avaya Stadium. There was both bad and good news Friday morning on the Lions’ injury situation:

Ready to kill some time before your tailgating festivities commence? We’ve got some reading material for you to help with that. But...before we get to today’s top stories, let’s all wish a happy birthday to both Orlando Pride defender Monica, and Orlando City backup goalkeeper Adam Grinwis!

Sacha Kljestan Stands Up for LGBTQ Equality

Orlando City midfielder Sacha Kljestan has become a Professional Ambassador with Athlete Ally, as an advocate for equality for the LGBTQ community. Athlete Ally is an organization dedicated to education and the elimination of homophobia and transphobia in sports. Kljestan has been outspoken on the topic, including his recent rental of an entire theater back in late March, in an effort to get more people to see the film Love, Simon — a romantic comedy about a gay teenager. It’s good to see star athletes like Kljestan standing up for equality.

More Kudos for Orlando City Stadium

The Oregonian recently ranked the MLS stadiums and our own house finished at No. 2 on the list. This comes just a week or so since Portland played in town and the atmosphere was pretty good for that game, although it wasn’t a sellout. I won’t mention who the news organization picked for the top spot but suffice it to say it’s not a soccer-specific stadium and the grass is fake, so it should be instantly disqualified by any true measure.

Orlando Pride’s Aussies Come Up Short in Women’s Asian Cup

Despite dominating the match in all statistical categories, Australia fell to Japan in the 2018 Women’s Asian Cup final, 1-0. Kumi Yokoyama’s strike in the 84th minute broke a scoreless deadlock and led her team to a repeat as WAC champions. While Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond didn’t fulfill their quest to win the tournament, they still qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup and it will be nice to have both players on the pitch with their Orlando Pride teammates soon. Here’s a look at the cup-winning goal:

USMNT Defender Brooks Returns to the Playing Field

U.S. international John Anthony Brooks has been out since mid-December with a knee injury, but he made his return for Bundesliga side Wolfsburg on Friday in his team’s 3-0 road loss to Borussia Monchengladbach. Brooks picked up a yellow card for a scissor tackle in the 13th minute on a challenge that looked bad on first watch but replays showed nothing more than a booking was warranted. However, he also made a number of good plays before exiting after just 29 minutes. He wasn’t happy to come off but the change didn’t seem based on his play or an injury, as Wolfsburg switched shape from a three-man back line to a flat four. The move didn’t work at all, as the visitors were trailing 1-0 when Brooks went off and conceded twice more before halftime. It’s good to see Brooks back on the pitch. Let’s hope he can stay healthy.

I don’t think Brooks would have stopped this quick free kick, however:

#WengerOut Will Become a Reality this Summer

After 22 years, legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will leave the London club. ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti writes that Wenger was asked to leave. Results haven’t been where Arsenal fans expect in recent years and the #WengerOut meme has been growing for some time, but it’s always kind of sad when a legendary figure leaves after a long tenure. He won’t get to leave Arsenal on the back of a Premier League title the way Alex Ferguson did, but he did a lot for the Gunners over the years and he’s earned the respect of the soccer world.

Some of the names popping up as Wenger’s potential replacement include New York City FC’s Patrick Vieira.

Free Kicks
  • #SaveTheCrew update: Precourt Sports Ventures filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that would keep the Columbus Crew from moving under Ohio’s “Art Modell Law.” The office of Ohio’s attorney general released a statement saying, “We will strongly oppose this motion to dismiss and respond further in court.” Stay tuned.
  • The Europa League trophy was stolen in Leon, Mexico but it was later recovered.
  • Former MLS goalkeeper Josh Wicks — not to be confused with John Wick — tested positive for cocaine while with his Swedish club and his contract will be terminated.
  • Joining Monica and Adam Grinwis among those born on this date are novelist Charlotte Brontë (1816), Anthony Quinn (1915), Queen Elizabeth II (1926), Charles Grodin (1935), Iggy Pop (1947), Tony Danza (1951), Andie McDowell (1958), The Cure vocalist Robert Smith (1959), hockey’s Ed Belfour (1965) and Vincent Lecavalier (1980), Tony Romo (1980), Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (1982), Montreal Impact midfielder Marco Donadel (1983), and Real Madrid midfielder Isco (1992).

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. From here on, how you spend the minutes between now and kickoff is all on you.

Don’t forget, the Lions will wear their Parley Ocean Plastic kits tonight and you can see all 23 teams’ Parley jerseys here. Before I go, let me just say I can’t recommend the movie A Quiet Place highly enough. I found it to be a master class in suspense. So...yeah, there’s my recommendation.

We’ll have all your pre- and post-match #content right here at The Mane Land, both for tonight’s Orlando City game vs. San Jose and tomorrow’s Orlando Pride match against the Houston Dash.