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Lion Links: 9/1/18

Meram says move to Orlando wasn’t a mistake, Pride players try softball, the USWNT hosts Chile, the best dressed babies in Orlando, and more.

Chile v United States Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Adios, August, and salud to you, September! As we turn the page on the calendar, there is renewed hope that Orlando City and the Orlando Pride can turn the page on their losing ways, find some hidden reserves of strength and fortitude, and give us a few more thrills before the long, dark tea-time of the off-season.

That page turn could start as early as tonight, as the Lions host the sizzling Philadelphia Union and their stingy defense that hasn’t allowed an opponent to score in three games. Orlando didn’t score the last time the teams met, in a 1-0 U.S. Open Cup loss. But that only makes tonight the rubber match as each team has conquered the other once this season.

Before we get to tonight, let’s wish Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor a happy 39th birthday. Cheers, Gaffer!

OK, time to take a look at what’s going on.

Meram: Orlando Move Was Not a Mistake

Look, nobody wanted Justin Meram to work out in Orlando more than I did. I’ve enjoyed his game for years and I love his willingness to take on defenders and score stunning goals from outside the box. We saw flashes of that in 2018 but never got the full Meram experience and now he’s back in Columbus and headed for the postseason while the Lions are mired in last place.

Sam Stejskal over at mlsssoccer.com delved into Meram’s thought process from his decision to leave C-bus in the first place to his return to the Crew. The most interesting part of the story (to me, anyway) was that it wasn’t Meram who wanted time away from Orlando City. It was the club that decided he should step away for three days in late June.

“That kind of was the starting point,” he said. “And then having the club thinking it’s best to send me away for a couple days when the team headed to Atlanta, that was tough because you want to play the games and you want to find your level again and any game can change that moment for you, you know?

“So that was tough when the club asked, when the GM [Niki Budalic] and the interim coach [Bobby Murphy] thought it was best for me to just get away for a couple days. And then coming back, I came back to a new coach. So, there were just a lot of little things that kept adding up, adding up, adding up and it was more or less, kind of just, OK, maybe this isn’t working out.”

I get the thought behind sending him away to clear his mind but I’m not sure the club got this decision right. It seems it only alienated an already struggling player even more. In the end, everyone moves on and it’s just another disappointing chapter in four seasons full of them.

Fun Chicks No. 4: Pride Meet Pride

The Orlando Pride’s Christine Nairn and Haley Kopmeyer were joined for their fourth installment of Fun Chicks by teammates Shelina Zadorsky and Carson Pickett, as they shuffled over to Space Coast Stadium to hang out and play softball with the USSSA Pride, a pro team based in Viera, FL. After watching this, it seems like they probably picked the right sport.

Baby Lions are Dressed for Success

Newborns at Winnie Palmer Hospital will be sporting purple from the beginning. From now until the end of October, babies born at the facility will be given Orlando City or Orlando Pride onesies so they can begin their lives the right way.

USWNT Rolls Against Chile

The USWNT met Chile for the first time ever and it was an ugly, lopsided game. The Yanks won, 3-0, and it could have been worse. A penalty kick goal was wrongly disallowed, the referee and assistant both missed a ball crossing the line off a shot that hit underneath the crossbar, and two other goals were waved off, although for more reasonable reasons. Christen Press scored the team’s third goal in her 100th cap to finish off a special night in her hometown, after seeing her penalty kick wiped out.

Former USL Lion Sapong Turned Around His 2018 Season

When CJ Sapong played a few games on loan for Orlando City back in 2013 during the team’s USL days, we didn’t know he’d go on to score more than 50 career MLS goals. Sapong fell out of form and out of favor earlier this year as the striker of the Philadelphia Union, but he’s regrouped and has come back strong playing out on the wing.

Free Kicks
  • Here’s a story about Orlando City’s barber.
  • Former Orlando City center back Sean St. Ledger has been added to the coaching staff of Ireland’s U-15 team.
  • Christian Pulisic may not join the USMNT for upcoming friendlies as he’s experiencing “muscular problems.”
  • Usain Bolt made his A-League debut in a preseason match with the Central Coast Mariners, registering one shot on goal in about 20 minutes.
  • Those born on this date include The Munsters actress Yvonne De Carlo (1922), boxing legend Rocky Marciano (1923), Lily Tomlin (1939), eldest Bee Gee Barry Gibb (1946), Gloria Estefan (1957), basketball’s Tim Hardaway (1966), and former Miami Dolphins greats Zach Thomas (1973) and Jason Taylor (1974).

That’s all my time on this fine Saturday morning. Check back later for full coverage of Orlando City’s match tonight against Philadelphia!