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Lion Links: 8/4/18

Meram officially out, Higuita speaks on O’Connor’s arrival, Pride internationals return, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Los Angeles Galaxy Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Match Day 23, everyone. The Lions will battle the Revolution of New England this evening at the beautiful purple stadium downtown and I plan to be there with or without bells on.

Hopefully I’ll see a stadium tonight full of purple-clad crazies hell bent on pushing the Lions on to victory in a crucial game. Now is the time if Orlando City is going to salvage the season, so every ounce of support is vital.

Meram Transfer Becomes Official

Justin Meram is officially no longer a Lion of Orlando City. The previous sentence is a sad one to me and probably many other City fans, as hopes were high with the acquisition of the former-and-again Columbus Crew winger prior to the 2018 season. The club sent him to Columbus in the traditional Friday news dump fashion, with a short, almost terse, press release.

Meram put on a great performance in the season opener and then began a season full of struggles. He’ll no doubt go back to flourishing under the familiar system of Gregg Berhalter — and probably make us all pay in October when the Lions and Crew meet again. Though the club likely got everything back it could from the original deal, it’s just another example of how you never know how a player will work out at a new team. It doesn’t mean Meram is a big baby or that he lacks mental toughness. For a good perspective on this, Bobby Warshaw writes about his own experience and points to Kevin de Bruyne’s stint at Chelsea as an example.

Hopefully the club can use some of those Garberbucks to bring in some help before the window closes.

Higuita Calls O’Connor a “Breath of Fresh Air”

Midfielder Cristian Higuita is having a breakout season for Orlando City. In addition to putting together a more consistent season defensively, the Colombian has added a career-high four goals on the year. He talked recently about Orlando City’s coaching change.

“Soccer is complicated at times. It’s tough to let go of a coach like Jason Kreis, who I considered a friend. But then comes James, and I see it more than just a benefit but a breath of fresh air,” Higuita said. “After suffering so many losses, we needed fresh air. I don’t know if it warranted a coaching change, but James arrives with a lot of hunger and the team through the last set of games has been wanting to show that same hunger.”

It’s interesting to see Higuita refer to Jason Kreis as a ‘friend,’ and to speculate about whether the change was warranted, but it’s clear that he’s embraced O’Connor’s arrival.

Another interesting nugget buried deep in the story is that Scott Sutter not only has dealt with knee and groin injuries this season, but also spent two nights in the emergency room with pancreatitis. Yikes!

Pride Welcome Home International Players

After an entertaining Tournament of Nations, eight Orlando Pride players have returned to Orlando as the team prepares for tomorrow’s match against Sky Blue FC. The only international who didn’t get game minutes in the ToN was goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, and Tom Sermanni said earlier in the week that he expects all eight internationals to be available. That could be in jeopardy with Alex Morgan’s late ankle injury against Brazil on Thursday night, but she did seem to be walking on that foot at the medal and trophy presentation.

Morgan had a great tournament, scoring four goals in the three matches and assisting on Tobin Heath’s strike Thursday night. Alanna Kennedy and Marta also scored for their countries, while Emily van Egmond missed the third round due to yellow card accumulation. So, van Egmond and Harris will be the freshest of the eight players and Poliana and Camila also didn’t see extended minutes. Marta, Kennedy, Morgan (if available), and Monica may be on the bench to start the match after playing extensively. It will be interesting to see how Sermanni deploys his international stars.

“They’ll want to play,” Sermanni said. “It is part of the things you have to deal with in soccer and these are players who are used to playing in multiple games in short periods of time. If they all come back healthy, they all will be considered for selection.”

New England Adds International Defender

Tonight’s opponents have been busy this transfer window. The New England Revolution announced the signing of English defender Michael Mancienne on a free transfer yesterday. Mancienne, 30, is unlikely to be available tonight as the former Nottingham Forest man has to wait for paperwork to go through. However, Bolivian midfielder Cristhian Machado may be available after his signing on July 23.

Free Kicks
  • If you want to meet Yoshi Yotún, you’ll get your chance on Tuesday at the team store.

That’s all my time for this morning. Keep it right here at The Mane Land for full coverage of tonight’s match and the Orlando Pride’s match tomorrow against Sky Blue FC!