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Lion Links: 6/29/18

Justin Meram speaks out, Rooney officially joins MLS, Sarachan earns an extension, and much more!

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

Take a deep breath, Mane Landers. It’s been a crazy 15-straight days of World Cup soccer, but today is a day of rest as the tournament transitions from the group stage to the knockout rounds. The bad news is that Yoshimar Yotún and Peru did not survive the group stage. The good news is that Yoshimar Yotún and Peru did not survive the group stage, so now the Orlando City midfielder can return to the City Beautiful and try to get the Lions back on track. Just one more weekday separates you from a weekend filled with even more soccer, so let’s start the day off right with some Links!

Justin Meram Sounds Off on Fan Criticism

Things haven’t exactly been going as well this year for Orlando winger Justin Meram as it did last season when he scored a career-high 13 goals for the Columbus Crew. Because of this and only scoring once so far this season, fans have begun to single out Meram and criticize him as the team rides a seven-game losing streak. However, Meram is speaking out against the criticism, saying that it has escalated far beyond a few jeers and jabs.

“What I’ve dealt with, death threats or, comments of – you know we have Mason [Stajduhar] here who just came over cancer – but comments of, ‘You know, you look like a cancer patient,’” Meram said, later clarifying fans wished death upon him but stopped short of threatening to take action.

“This has probably been the hardest four months, maybe, of my life, my career,” Meram said.

Meram has had to put up with this disgusting behavior and more before finally deciding to step away from social media and focus on his club, teammates, and play. Meram attributes the decline in his performance to the growing pains from joining a new club and trying to find his place among the Lions offense. Regardless of his struggles, no fan should ever resort to death threats or nasty insults to criticize a player. Some tend to forget that players are people just like them and I hate that Meram has had to deal with this behavior.

No Excuse Not to Attend Saturday’s Orlando Pride Game

Despite Wednesday’s loss to the Houston Dash, the Orlando Pride are still in second place in the NWSL as they gear up for a heavyweight showdown against the league-leading North Carolina Courage Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. It should be one of the best games this year and the Pride have made sure that you won’t have an excuse for not attending the game. For Saturday’s game, anyone age 17 and under will be given free admission and there will be many discounts that you can check out in the video below.

No Excuses | See You Saturday

Tickets, drinks, merch. Not a problem. There are #NoExcuses on Saturday: https://orlan.do/noexcuses

Posted by Orlando Pride on Thursday, June 28, 2018

But that’s not all. Saturday will also be Orlando Vegans Night where fans can enjoy great vegan options at Orlando City Stadium like cauliflower tacos and black bean burgers. Those festivities start at 12:30 and last all the way through the Pride’s game. But don’t worry, meat lovers, all the standard fare will also be available during the game.

By the way, the Courage got even better yesterday with the acquisition of former USWNT midfielder Heather O’Reilly.

Rooney Lands in D.C.

Wayne Rooney may not be able to take the field for D.C. United until the secondary transfer window opens on July 10, but MLS is abuzz with the news of his arrival in the nation’s capital. Fellow English superstar turned MLS player David Beckham weighed in on Rooney’s move on Instagram.

But Beckham wasn’t the only one who welcomed Rooney to MLS. Orlando’s own Dom Dwyer took to twitter to send his greetings.

U.S. Interim Coach Gets an Extension

First reported by Paul Tenorio of The Athletic, U.S. interim head coach Dave Sarachan has gotten a contract extension to last until the end of the calendar year. The move makes sense considering the U.S. has friendlies planned throughout the year and U.S. General Manager Ernie Stewart can’t even begin his search for a new coach until he starts his job on Aug. 1. It should also be noted that the extension will not preclude Stewart from hiring another coach.

Free Kicks
  • Could Cyle Larin’s European adventure be coming to an end already? And, if so, is he being targeted by FC Dallas?
  • Following his exit from the World Cup, Yotún is on his way back to Orlando and Jordan Culver has the scoop on when that could be.

That’s all from me folks! I hope you have an amazing Friday as we get ready for a very busy weekend of soccer. Vamos Orlando!