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Lion Links: 7/12/18

Pride visit Houston, a City transfer rumor, Shane O’Neill the Lions’ “new” CB, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, Mane Landers! Not my usual day on links so greetings to any new people reading away today. If you’re not familiar with me then let me tell you I am the exact opposite of your usual links master, primarily meaning I like good teams like Manchester United and not that other team in the town that will remain nameless.

Today we are talking the Pride’s result, City’s “new” and much needed center back, O’Connor’s coaching style, a New York Red Bulls former manager and current U-19 National Team player are making big news, Marta’s indispensable — shocker — and so much more.

Pride Lose 3-1 to Houston Dash

The Pride lost their third out of four matches on the road against the Houston Dash last night, 3-1. The result damages their playoff hopes while simultaneously giving the Dash some hope as they get back into the picture. The Pride fell behind early as a midfield turnover allowed Rachel Daly to get in behind a sleeping back line for her first of two goals on the night in the 17th minute. From there the Pride allowed a goal early in the second half when Ashlyn Harris couldn’t hold onto an aerial ball and in turn gave Daly an easy brace. Sydney Leroux pulled one back to throw the Pride a lifeline but it wasn’t enough in the end as the Pride fell 3-1 after a late goal was conceded.

O’Connor’s Coaching Style is Very Straightforward

New manager James O’Connor has plenty to learn in to his young coaching career. One thing he doesn't do is beat around the bush as that’s not his style.

“It’s black and white with him,” right back RJ Allen said about his “tell-it-like-it-is” style. “That’s what I respect a lot about [him]. If you can’t get the job done for him, then somebody else will.”

The new skipper is working with his new team quickly to develop trust and an understanding of his personal style:

“It’s all relationships,” O’Connor said. “I think the players need to understand that my intentions are always very good. Even though I’ll tell you genuinely straight, it’ll be coming from a place of good will and a kind heart.”

He's not just shy about his team, but also about the way the match went last Saturday against LAFC where we saw Orlando City have VAR call back a crucial game-tying goal:

“The way it finished, where we go from potentially 2-2 to then losing 4-1, that’s something that really frustrated all of us,” O’Connor said before Wednesday’s training sessions. “For us, it’s been very intentional on how we go about things and what we’re willing to accept and not accept.”

I love it. People can talk about wanting a player’s coach and how O’Connor will be that considering his young age. But this team needs a firm kick in the teeth and sugar coating anything won’t get City as motivated to get back into the playoffs picture. I’m looking forward to the O’Connor era of no bullshit.

Shane O’Neill is Nearly Ready to be City’s Next Center Back

If you’re reading the name Shane O’Neill and saying “wait a minute, wasn’t he already here?” you wouldn't be wrong. Unfortunately, the Lions just haven't been able to utilize him as his ITC — International Transfer Certificate — took a little longer than expected and he wasn’t eligible for selection until the transfer window opened July 10 anyway. It’s looking optimistic that this will happen this week and he will be available for Toronto FC at home. It’s a perfect time as well with Jonathan Spector and Lamine Sané out, as the team needs all the center back help it can get. Let’s just say he’s itching for the chance to get on field at this point:

“If somebody was telling you they’re here to provide depth, I think they’d be lying to you,” O’Neill said with a smile. “I’m just still extremely happy to be here and I just can’t wait to keep on proving myself in training. If the opportunity comes on Saturday, then fantastic. I’ll give it all I have out there.”

Peruvian International Christian Cueva to Orlando City?

Orlando City is reportedly back in the hunt for previously rumored Peruvian international Christian Cueva.

In an interesting way of going about the transfer, the Lions are trying to use buyout money that they are still seeking from Sao Paulo from the Kaká transfer.

You may recall that Orlando City tried the same strategy to get Paulo Henrique Ganso, but Sao Paulo disputes the amount the club owes OCSC so it’s unlikely to work this time either. Can GM Niki Budalic swing this unique deal? Probably not. It is nice to see however that the club isn't resting on its laurels if the report is true.

Jesse Marsch has National Team Hopes; Tyler Adams to Join Him in Germany

If you didn’t already know, Jesse Marsch — former manager of New York Red Bulls — has moved on to be an assistant at RB Leipzig. But it’s not this move we are talking about today as Marsch has big aspirations:

“I hope to someday be the manager for the U.S. national team. I think I’m still young. There’s still a lot for me to learn. I think this opportunity will help me grow and get better and ultimately prepare me for more jobs in the future.”

He did admit the conversation of him for the immediate opening is more conjecture than reality. However if he does take the job anytime in the next 8 years, he’ll most likely see a familiar face in NYRB and USMNT midfielder, as Tyler Adams is reported to be following Marsch to Germany more likely at the end of the season then in the current window.

This is great news for Adams as he goes into a league known for their youth development and time given on the pitch vs. the MLS which often makes it tough on young players. Also having a familiar face won’t hurt as well as he transitions overseas.

Marta is the Pride’s Most Indispensable Player

Dan Lauletta of Equalizer Soccer recently took a look at each of the nine NWSL teams and determined which player on each roster is the most indispensable on the roster.

For Orlando City, that player was none other than Marta, the Brazilian superstar and arguably the best player ever. He notes:

“It has not been the most productive season for Marta, but she is still the most dangerous offensive player around and one who demands the full attention of opposing defenses.”

Interestingly, he also called out a Longing For More — one who will need to be better for each team to take the next step.— category and named Alex Morgan as that player.

I can’t argue that much. While Morgan could be where Marta is rated, she hasn’t had the same year as when she came back from France. Partly to injury, but if the Pride are going to succeed Alex is going to need to be healthy and producing.

The Pride will be without the indispensable Marta on Saturday as she picked up a red card late in last night’s match.

Free Kicks
  • A quick City injury update before Saturday’s match.

And I leave you with the news that it is not coming home. Sorry to all of our English readers or those with the heritage (like me), but England bottled it again against a Croatian side that, despite playing 60 extra minutes before this match, dominated much of the last two thirds. England took the lead early but never found its rhythm after and Croatia climbed back.

What’s one man’s misery is his wife’s opportunity for savageness. Golf clap for Sydney Leroux.

The World Cup final will be this Sunday at 11 a.m. ET with France vs. Croatia. France hasn’t won since 1998, sporting one of the youngest teams in the tournament and Croatia has never been to a final so expect a good one.

That’s it! Let me know where you’ll be watching the match on Sunday and who you are rooting for. I took France in our Mane Land pre-tournament predictions and I’m sticking with it. Cheers!