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Lion Links: 5/13/18

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The Pride beat the Thorns, Lions supporters show their commitment, Kreis buys Orlando’s mothers purple roses, a Wayne Rooney update, and more.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers, but more importantly Happy Mother’s Day! I hope that everyone enjoys their Mother’s Day in whatever fashion you most prefer. As for my family, we’ll be having a cookout: burgers, franks, and steaks. I’ve gone overboard in this year’s gift to my mom for the holiday, but I won’t spoil it here in case she’s reading (if you are, hi Mom, love you).

Mothers are the hardest working human beings on the planet, and they don’t get the credit they’re due. Make sure you remind yours that you love and appreciate her. It’s a happy day to celebrate, so do so no matter what. Also, we here at The Mane Land also want to wish a very special birthday to fan favorite and overall beloved teammate Scott Sutter, who turns 32 years young today! Happy birfday, Mr. Sutter. We love you and the positivity that you bring to the squad!

Oh, and the Lions host Atlanta United in Orlando City Stadium.

What a day...we’ll keep this one trimmed to ensure you can get back to enjoying your family and preparing for what’s destined to be a fantastic match. Here’s your Sunday serving of Links, Mane Landers.

Orlando Pride Score Early and Hold Off Portland Thorns, 2-1

In a match that saw the Thorns dominate ball possession and shots, the Pride held on to their early lead and saw the match through, winning three important points in the process and beating the Thorns for the first time ever. Alex Morgan was on target early, scoring in the 11th minute. Christine Nairn followed suit just minutes later, ripping a beauty from distance to grab one of her own (see below) and give the Pride an early 2-0 lead. That score line wouldn’t last long, however, as Portland’s Christine Sinclair netted in the 23rd minute to keep the Thorns in the match. Ultimately, the ladies in purple successfully fended off the late barrage from the Thorns, and rightfully earned the full three points.

Head Coach Jason Kreis Buys Orlando’s Mothers Purple Roses

The Lions’ gaffer made the admirable decision to purchase 1,000 purple roses to be handed out to mothers as they enter Orlando City Stadium for the weekend’s clash against powerhouse rival Atlanta United. The gesture, both generous and heartfelt, shows a side of the Lions’ coach that the supporters don’t often get to see. He stated, “Anybody that’s got a mother or anybody that’s married to a mother, it’s always a special day and it gives us an opportunity to recognize them in a very public forum.” Ultimately, it was a classy move by an ascending celebrity in the city of Orlando. Cheers, Jason, and cheers to all of the Orlando mothers (and any, anywhere, for that matter).

Lions’ Supporters Make Saturday’s Training Session Something Special

With an exciting clash with rival side Atlanta United on the horizon, members of Orlando City’s supporter’s groups, The Ruckus and the Iron Lion Firm, turned out in numbers to cheer on their boys in purple in their final team training session before the match. The atmosphere was something else as 45 supporters showed up to chant the team’s beloved tunes. The move was a nice gesture from the fans that attended, and serves as a reminder of how much the team means to the community. The feeling is mutual as well, as star winger Justin Meram said, “They want a high standard. They express their opinions. I think it’s a great thing that they understand the game and want everyone to succeed and do well.”

Toffees’ Gaffer Sam Allardyce Provides Update on Rooney Transfer Saga

It appears that Everton manager Sam Allardyce isn’t opposed to seeing Wayne Rooney leave the club amid heated interest from MLS side D.C. United. When asked about the potential move, the manager stated,

“If the player wants to go – if any player wants to leave – then I’m comfortable with that. But let’s get this right: Wayne Rooney has not asked to leave and neither has he had a confrontation with me,” Allardyce said. “My understanding of the situation is there seems to have been some negotiation somewhere along the line. I don’t get involved in anything with regards to transfers so all I know is there appears to be interest from DC United. Where that lies and where Wayne lies with it I can’t tell you at the moment. But in terms of clarity of whether Wayne is staying or leaving, I’ll find out a little more later when he comes into training.”

It’s looking increasingly possible that we’ll see the English legend plying his trade in MLS, and I can’t wait to see how the players will stack up around him. Despite his age, Rooney still holds world class potential in his ability and leadership, and could prove to be the foundation of a future title-contender. The move to some pundits, of course, will scream of the cliched “retirement league” mantra that some believe MLS has become, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is Rooney is still plenty capable as a top class striker for a top European side. Regardless of the critics, I can’t wait to see this one.

Free Kicks
  • The SIMA Aguilas, a USL PDL team that features several Orlando City academy products, opened their 2018 regular season last night at Montverde Academy and played to a scoreless draw against Weston FC.
  • The fellas over at mlssoccer.com polled a pod of eight of the writers and editors on which match today will be the one they’re looking forward to the most. Spoiler alert: five of the eight picked Orlando City-Atlanta.
  • If you’re looking ahead to next weekend’s opponents, Orlando City plays at Toronto FC. The Reds will be without Giovinco after he was sent off late in last night’s match at New England for hands to the face.
  • San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski is now officially the player with the most goals with a single club in MLS history. Congrats, Wondo.
  • Jose Mourinho’s longtime assistant, Rui Faria, is set to step down from his role with Manchester United in order to spend quality time with his family before pursuing the next step in his professional career. Mourinho stated, “17 years and the kid is now a man. The intelligent student is now a football expert, ready for a successful career as a manager.”
  • Matt Reed over at nbcsports.com did a write-up on who he views as the best and worst valued players in MLS based on their current contract.
  • Congratulations are in order to the 2002 Boys Black Team and their coaches for winning the Greater Central Florida Youth Soccer League Third Division Championship!
  • A report has recently stated that Brazilian superstar Neymar told his teammates that he will not return to PSG following the World Cup in Russia this summer amid interest from several of Europe’s top clubs. I’m not sure what’s going on with this one, all I know is there’s going to be a lot of money moving between some bank accounts.
  • Meanwhile, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is back on track in terms of his ankle’s health, and he’s expected to be available and selected for the upcoming Champion’s League final against Liverpool.
  • Former Lion and current Whitecap Jose Aja scored his first career MLS goal Friday against the Houston Dynamo.

“Well, that’s about all that’s fit to print,” Mane Landers (that’s something my mom says when she’s ready to get off of the phone with me). Enjoy your family on this wonderful Mother’s Day, and then revel in what will go down as an epic clash between two of the south’s hottest footballing clans. I can’t wait, Mane Landers, it’ll be a good one.

Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with my score prediction: 3-2 Orlando.