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Lion Links: 8/24/18

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Amro Tarek called up, containing Atlanta’s offense, Rivalry Week’s most hated, and much more.

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up, Mane Landers? Not only is it Friday, but it’s game day! I hope you guys are ready for Orlando City’s showdown with Atlanta United tonight at 8 p.m. ET for MLS Rivalry Week as the Lions look to claw their way back into the playoff race. But before we can start cheering on our boys in purple, we have to get through the last day of the work week and there’s no better way to start that day than with some links!

Tarek Called Up for Egyptian Qualifiers

Orlando City center back Amro Tarek has been called up for Egypt’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger on Sept. 8. Tarek was one of 13 foreign-based player selected by Egypt’s head coach, Javier Aguirre, who took over the team earlier this month. It’s nice to see Tarek seemingly a part of Aguirre’s plans, even if it means the Lions will be without him for their match with Sporting Kansas City on the same date. Congrats Amro!

Orlando Ready to Face Atlanta’s Offense

Orlando has allowed 57 goals while Atlanta has scored 53, both league highs. Head Coach James O’Connor has a tough test ahead of him with a porous defense that has conceded 10 goals in the past three games. He will have to find a way to hold off the best attack in the league but he will have home field advantage on his side. But even if O’Connor has a plan for stopping the Five Stripes, it is up to the players to execute it on the field tonight.

“For us, our process is the same. We break down the opposition, we say, ‘look, here’s where they attack, here’s some of the principles that they use,’ ” O’Connor said. “And then equally here’s some of the principles that we want to use when we’re attacking.”

Lions Aim to Keep Josef Martinez Quiet

While all of Atlanta’s offense is dangerous, most eyes will be on forward Josef Martinez as he is just one goal away from breaking the MLS scoring record. But the Lions are determined not to let that happen tonight at Orlando City Stadium. Yoshimar Yotún and Cristian Higuita will both be unavailable for the match, but newest defender Carlos Ascues may be the secret ingredient to holding off Martinez’s celebrations for another week.

Dom Dwyer Makes MLS Most Wanted

Rivalry Week brings out some of the best fan support of the year, with supporters not only cheering for their team but against the opposition. That fan hate is usually targeted at a few players who make opposing fans want to rip their hair out. Players like Bradley Wright-Phillips, Martinez, and Orlando’s own Dom Dwyer fit the bill. With an attacking style built around tricky runs and creating problems for defenses, Dwyer is both persistent and focused on breaking down back lines. Scoring in the past three games, he will hopefully be a thorn in Atlanta’s side all night long.

MLS Americans Moving to Europe Comes at a Price

Although the rise of MLS players heading to big clubs in Europe is a good testament to how the league’s academy system has grown, it does come at the cost of the league not personally seeing the fruits of its labors. Despite great improvement in preparing young players out of college in the game, many Americans are choosing the allure of playing in Europe instead of their home country. Regardless, I believe the good outweighs the bad as MLS makes more of a name for itself in the global scene.

Free Kicks

That’ll do it for today’s links, I hope you enjoy your Friday! Vamos Orlando!