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Lion Links: 7/3/18

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Orlando City introduces James O’Connor, update on OCB plans, Harris nominated for Save of the Week, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers. It was a rough weekend for both Orlando teams as the Pride and Lions each dropped their games. However, there are plenty of other things to distract us from the weekend’s results, so let’s get into those links.

James O’Connor Meets the Media

After taking part in his first training session as the new head coach of Orlando City, James O’Connor met with the media at Orlando City Stadium yesterday. The 38-year-old didn’t shy away from questions about the pressure of taking over a club that’s expected to win this season amidst an eight-game losing streak.

“I think you have to embrace every challenge. I think anyone who knows me knows that I’m very hungry. I’m determined to get success,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is sitting down with the players, trying to establish a relationship, with the players. But when I look at the quality of the players that are here, I’m generally really excited.”

O’Connor will face his first challenge on Saturday when the Lions visit LAFC.

Update on Plans for OCB

General Manager Niki Budalic provided a brief update on the future of Orlando City B in an interview with ProSoccerUSA. Budalic stated that the club is in the “final phases” of bringing back OCB as a USL Division III club for the 2019 season. Budalic also stated his belief that people involved with the club recognize the importance of having a place for young players to develop. The success that New York Red Bulls, in particular, have had with their academy system caused concern among many fans when it was announced that OCB would not be playing this season. Look for more news to be announced as the season progresses.

Harris Up for SOTW

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris has been nominated for the NWSL Save of the Week. Harris’ nomination comes for a 19th-minute stop on a Crystal Dunn shot to keep the game against North Carolina Courage level at 0-0. Unfortunately, the Pride would go on to lose that game, 3-0, but at the time the save was quite an important one. Don’t forget that the Pride are back in action when they face the Washington Spirit this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium.

Orlando City Players Return to Training

Good news for Orlando City fans as Yoshimar Yotún has returned from World Cup duty with Peru. Additionally, Justin Meram is back in training after being given three days off by the club for family reasons. Yotún’s return should be especially pleasing to Orlando City fans. The midfielder has been one of the Lions’ best performers since he was signed during last year’s summer window. While Meram hasn’t quite hit the heights that he did with the Columbus Crew, he still has a goal and three assists in league play as well as a goal in the U.S. Open Cup. Additionally, Cristian Higuita trained off to the side as he continues to recover from an adductor injury.

Thai Youth Soccer Team Found

Ecstatic scenes in Thailand yesterday as 12 youth soccer players and their coach were finally located alive in an underground cave. The boys and their coach were found on the ninth day of a search operation by two divers from the United Kingdom. The challenge now facing rescuers is providing food and medical assistance to the group ahead of trying to figure out how to move them with rising waters and muddy conditions making things difficult. Regardless, an important first step has been taken towards the team’s rescue, news that will surely warm the hearts of soccer fans across the world.

Free Kicks
  • Get a day chock full of soccer this Saturday at Orlando City Stadium:
  • Gianluigi Buffon has confirmed his retirement from the Italian national team.
  • Things went from bad to worse for Japan yesterday. Not only was Rabio the psychic octopus chopped up and turned into food after correctly predicting all the results of Japan’s group stage games, but the Samurai Blue then proceeded to blow a two-goal lead over Belgium in their round of 16 game, crashing out of the World Cup. Better luck next time guys.

That’ll do it for me today. As I said earlier, the Pride play Saturday at home, while Orlando City visit LAFC just a few hours earlier at 4:30 pm ET. Vamos Orlando.