It’s Wednesday and I am finally writing Lion Links from my home for the first time in a while. I’m looking forward to the last ever Warped Tour this Friday, followed up by my first time back in Orlando City Stadium in a while. So hopefully I bring some good juju this weekend.
Today we are talking MLS All-Star activities, the Pride’s finish to the season, an Orlando City player called up to the U.S. Youth National team, and much more.
Yoshi is Enjoying the All-Star Week, Lindley Starts in Homegrown Game
This week is a new experience for Yoshi Yotún as he gets to experience his first ever MLS All-Star week after he was selected by manager Tata Martino for the match. Yoshi had nothing to say but great things of the fan support he’s received so far.
“The most important thing for me is the fans,” Yotún said through a translator. “After training, I noticed there were many Peruvians in the stands, so I wanted to get there, approach them, interact with them. I also saw fans from many other teams, many other countries. I just wanted to be there, sign autographs, interact.”
In the MLS Homegrown game, rookie Cam Lindley started and played the full 90 against Liga MX’s Tigres U-20 on what was a very rainy night. Overall Lindley looked good in a back-and-forth match. The first half was nearly dominated by the goalkeepers, Lindley earned a foul in the last 30 seconds that led to an ensuing free kick and goal for the Homegrowns to take the 1-0 lead moving into halftime.
The second half had its interesting moments that included an MLS goal overturned by video review — correctly In my opinion — that immediately led to a Tigres indirect free kick and goal inside the penalty area. The Homegrowns also ended a man up after a Tigres player was sent off in the 76th minute but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal in the final 15-plus minutes. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match Ends in 1-1 Draw
Before the MLS Homegrown match, the fifth annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Showcase presented by MLS Works and ESPN took place. The Unified Sports All-Star soccer teams will play an 11-v-11 match, featuring athletes with and without intellectual disabilities representing MLS clubs. Orlando City featured two players on the East in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw. You can watch the entire match here.
Pride Hitting Final Stretch of Must-Win Games
The NWSL season only has five matches left as the Pride look for consecutive playoff appearances. The road won’t be easy as they’ll face a host of playoff-caliber opponents in Portland, North Carolina, and the Chicago Red Stars with two matches against cellar dweller Sky Blue FC. Midfielder Dani Weatherholt gave her take on the Pride and their outlook via Pro Soccer USA.
“In our second year, we really set the standard of the kind of team we want to be and we want to be in the playoffs every year,” Orlando midfielder Dani Weatherholt told Pro Soccer USA on Monday. “We’ve been in second place for the majority of this year and it’s coming down to the final games. They’re must-win games for us, and I think we’re hitting form at a good time.”
Even after the Tournament of Nations, expect to see players like Alex Morgan, Alanna Kennedy, Marta, etc., involved this weekend with the playoff push ahead.
Ali Krieger is a Ravenclaw
If you’re a Harry Potter fan like me, and to be honest you probably live in Orlando and should get on the same page if you're not, then this was a fun piece done by the NWSL to celebrate the historic tale.
While I’m not surprised at Krieger — who was recently named ECNL’s S’Hero for July — being a Ravenclaw, I was surprised at the sheer number of Slytherins named. Former Pride player Jasmyne Spencer called herself a Gryffindor, but I’m definitely going to call her out as a Hufflepuff. The league needs them and just because you don’t want to be one doesn't mean you aren't. And then other times you just own it, like goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer who, like Krieger, doesn't shock me at all:
Orlando City Academy Prospect Makes U-17 National Team
The U-17 U.S. Men’s National Team will embark on an 11-day training camp in San Jose, Costa Rica. During the team’s time there, it will play both Mexico and Costa Rica twice in friendlies, as the U.S. is nearly halfway into a two-year international cycle, culminating in the U-17 World Cup in 2019. As part of the 23-man roster, Orlando City Development Academy defender Jahlane Forbes makes his first appearance in a U.S. camp. Congrats, Jahlane!
Not included on the roster is notable U-16 LA Galaxy player Efrain Alvarez who switched his allegiance to Mexico in 2016, but isn’t 100% set on being with El Tri permanently.
“I’m not closing the door on anyone. I could still play for the U.S. or I could keep playing for Mexico. But I’m with Mexico right now and that’s my focus,” Alvarez said.
- The Orlando SeaWolves signed International futsal sensation Rico Zulkarnain, also known as RZ9, for their inaugural season.
- In a weird turn of events, New Zealand’s women’s coach quit after an uprising.
- A new report says heading the ball may be more dangerous for women than men and could lead to potential gender-specific rules if the study proves viable.
As usual, everyone have a great week and I look forward to getting back into the stadium after all my travels have kept me from the past two games! Cheers!