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Lion Links: 6/15/18

Orlando eyes World Cup hosting, the Pride prepare for Sky Blue FC, Russia wins big, and much more!

MLS: Orlando City SC at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Take a deep breath, Mane Landers. Orlando City may be in a nosedive as it continues its worst league losing streak in franchise history after Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Montreal Impact, but at least we have the Orlando Pride and the World Cup to distract us for the time being.

Before I get you caught up on the latest soccer news, I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Orlando City Assistant Coach C.J. Brown who is turning 43 today! Now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Moves Closer to Hosting a World Cup

With the 2026 FIFA World Cup officially coming to North America, Orlando has moved another step forward in its efforts toward hosting the greatest sporting event in the world. Central Florida Sports Commission CEO Jason Siegel has spearheaded Orlando’s host city bid and believes the soccer fans in Orlando are to thank for making the city a contender.

“The reason that Orlando is so well thought of and has been throughout this process is very much attributable to the passion of our soccer community,” Siegel said. “So when it comes to our professional teams, the Lions and Pride; the international teams we’ve hosted, the portfolio of positive and well-attended matches is in our favor.”

However, there is still work to be done. Final renovations to Camping World Stadium are expected in order to add luxury seating options and there are still venue requirements that will have to be met in due time. But the biggest obstacle for Orlando may be Miami. Time will tell whether or not FIFA will choose two cities from Florida, but if it’s a duel between the two cities then Miami could snag the bid. According to Siegel, a collaboration between Orlando and Miami is not in the cards.

Orlando City Announces Massive Watch Party

Fans have been invited to enjoy the World Cup from the comfort of Lion’s Pride Soccer Club and Grill at some official watch parties. There, fans can hang out with fellow supporters and watch every game on over 40 different televisions. But that’s not all. On July 7, $10 can get you admission into the best Orlando City watch party of all time. The day starts with fans gathering to see a World Cup quarterfinal match (2:30 p.m. ET) and will be followed with an Orlando City away match watch party on the video board as the Lions take on Los Angeles FC at 4:30 p.m. ET. The admission also gives you a ticket to the Pride’s match later that night against the Washington Spirit at 7:30 p.m. ET, so it really will be a soccer-filled day.

Orlando Pride Aren’t Taking Sky Blue Lightly

On paper, winless Sky Blue FC should pose little threat to the Orlando Pride when the two teams face off tomorrow night in Orlando City Stadium. However, Head Coach Tom Sermanni isn’t letting his team walk into the game with its guard down and is aware of the danger that Sky Blue poses.

“It’s one of those situations they’re in at the moment where things just aren’t going right for them, but they’re still a team that is very dangerous, very well organized and a team on the cusp of getting a win, so it’s a very dangerous game for us this weekend.”

Luckily for the Pride, Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris will be returning to the team from international duty. Brazilian superstar Marta is still battling a left calf strain but Sermanni believes she isn’t far away from being match fit.

World Cup Kicks Off With Huge Russia Win

Things could not have gone much better for Russia as the country kicked off its first FIFA World Cup yesterday. The Russians throttled Saudi Arabia, 5-0 in the tournament’s first match, with Denis Cheryshev netting a brace. Not many could’ve predicted such a dominant performance, but a psychic, deaf Russian cat was able to predict who would win. It was an impressive win for the host country, but Saudi Arabian Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi believes that his team’s poor performance was the reason for the result and had nothing to do with how Russia played.

Today, we will have a lot of World Cup soccer to look forward to with Egypt taking on Uruguay at 8 a.m., Morocco facing Iran at 11 a.m., and a heavyweight match between Portugal and Spain at 2 p.m.

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That’s all from me, Mane Landers! Enjoy today’s early morning soccer and have a fantastic Friday!