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Lion Links: 7/14/18

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O’Connor setting an example, trouble for an OCSC corporate partner, City’s hot sauce has a name, an ex-Lion is back in MLS, and more.

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

Happy double match day, everyone. At least I hope it’s happy. There have been far too many sad ones of late. It doesn’t make things any better that the Pride have caught Lion-itis and have scored just three goals over the course of 57 (!) shots in their past two matches.

The Pride will kick off against Utah Royals FC tonight at 7 p.m. ET and the Lions will follow at home against Toronto FC at 8 p.m., provided there’s not a weather delay. Both teams need to snap out of their current funks.

Before we get into our top stories at this hour, let me throw out a big happy birthday to Lewis Neal. The former USL and MLS Lion has been helping out Head Coach James O’Connor at training since JOC’s arrival and it’s good to see him still giving back to the club.

OK, now for the news.

JOC is Setting the Example for the Lions

In this excellent piece on Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor by ProSoccerUSA’s Jordan Culver, it’s easy to find a lot of things to like about the new gaffer. No one’s going to outwork him. He’s not going to ask any of his players to do anything he’s not willing to do himself. It’s honestly not something you don’t typically hear when a new coach comes in, but you have to like his positive vibe and willingness to roll up his sleeves and get to work. Another thing I liked was his call for positive vibes from the stands as he gets set for his first home match in charge of the team he once played for.

“Just generally – and I know it’s really difficult, because everyone is so frustrated – just to try to support the players as much as you can,” O’Connor said. “That’s what we all need. We really need to get behind Orlando City as a club. I can understand the frustration without question. I think that the important thing for us is to try to get some confidence and belief back into the players.”

As for what might be going on during the transfer window, O’Connor said the club has held some preliminary discussions but nothing is advanced, but he does see some of the team’s needs now that he’s had some time for evaluation.

“There’s a couple of areas that I’ve looked at and I’ve thought, ‘OK, maybe we may need a little bit of strengthening there.’ So, there’s been some initial conversations. That’s very early stage as we want to really focus on this Saturday against Toronto.”

Should Orlando City Dump Pizza Sponsorship Partner?

In the wake of “Papa” John Schnatter being booted from his own company after the use of a racist term, Orlando City has yet to determine whether or not it will continue its partnership with Papa John’s Pizza. The Orlando Magic have reportedly already suspended theirs and the Orlando Sentinel’s George Diaz is calling for it. Will the club do it? Should it?

An Orlando City spokesperson said the club is aware of the situation and has not yet made a decision about any changes to the partnership. Fans get a discount any time Orlando City or Orlando Pride earn a win or draw this season.

I can see why many would say dump them (besides the terrible product), but if the company has already booted the offensive person and is doing everything it can to distance itself from the guy, well...I still believe in redemption and not punishing a huge organization for the actions of a bad person because, spoiler alert: every large organization has many bad people and oftentimes they’re right at the top. I don’t have all the details of the partnership, but Papa John’s recently sponsored a youth soccer camp for City back in June. Certainly that’s the kind of thing we need more of.

That is some straight fire.

Orlando City’s Hot Sauce Has a Name

As we find out time and time again, the public should never be allowed to vote on anything. Tijuana Flats announced the names of three finalists for the fast-casual Mexican food chain’s new brand of hot sauce geared toward Orlando City fans. The finalists were:

  • Three Effin’ Points.
  • Take Your F’n Shirt Off.
  • Bleed Purple.

Because people are generally terrible at deciding things, the winner was Take Your F’n Shirt Off, which I think was the worst of the three, and by a long, long way. One thing is for certain, with two finalists having a stand-in word for an expletive, Tijuana Flats has definitely been keeping up with the team’s play of late. However, looking into the stands, I generally want people to put their “F’n” shirts back on. Also, if a player takes off their f’n shirt, it’s a yellow card, and that’s not good. Personally, I liked Bleed Purple because it was at least directly identifiable as being related to the team. I kind of thought more people would have wanted to see Three Effin’ Points though. It’s been a while.

Colorado Rapids Sign Former Lion

Giles Barnes officially joined the Pids on Friday after rumors broke out of him signing with the Colorado side earlier in the week. Barnes played in all 34 matches for Orlando City in 2017, starting 23 times and scoring three goals with two assists. After a detour in Liga MX with Club Leon, Barnes is back in Major League Soccer and, because the Lions have already faced the Rapids in 2018, I wish him a successful rest of the season.

Free Kicks
  • Croatia’s Ivan Perisic, who was instrumental in his country’s win over England, might have to miss the World Cup final with a thigh injury.
  • The 2022 World Cup will have a dramatic effect on the MLS postseason.
  • LAFC will sell defender Omar Gaber to Pyramids FC of the Egyptian Premier League due to a family matter back in Egypt.
  • Among those born on this date (like Lewis Neal) were Woody Guthrie (1912), Gerald Ford (1913), Jane Lynch (1960), LOST actor Matthew Fox (1966), and MMA star Conor McGregor (1988).

That’s all my time for this morning. We’ll have full coverage of both the Pride and the Lions throughout today and tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend!