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Lion Links: 9/19/18

Lions aren’t giving up, Pulisic scores a winner, NWSL final set, and much more!

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up, Mane Landers? It’s sure to be another hot day in September as both the work week and perhaps the most grueling Orlando City season ever wear on. A few days ago I suggested that we try enjoying watching the Lions while we still can, but after this past loss, I’m relishing the days between matches as a chance to recharge and relax. Regardless of how the Lions have been doing, there is still plenty of soccer out there to be excited about. Now, let’s get to the links!

Lions Haven’t Thrown In the Towel

Despite being trounced 4-0 Sunday night by the Chicago Fire in one of the worst Orlando City performances in some time, midfielder Yoshimar Yotún doesn’t believe that the Lions have given up on this season. The 28-year-old agrees that it was a poor performance by Orlando, but doesn’t agree with comments regarding the effort the players put in Sunday night.

“It was our worse game in the league, for sure,” Yotún said through a translator. “When you feel that a team has beaten you like that, there’s not much that you can do. But we believe that we have quality players. That we always go after the game, try to get points, no matter what situation we’re in, whether we’re home or away.”

MLS Strength of Schedule Results

With the final stretch of the 2018 MLS season upon us, the folks at MLSsoccer.com have compiled a listing of each team’s remaining strength of schedule. Toronto FC was determined to have the toughest road ahead, while the Lions sit at the eighth-hardest. Although not much remains for Orlando’s postseason aspirations, there is still plenty on the line for the players. James O’Connor is constantly evaluating players and there is plenty of pride worth fighting for as the club is on pace to set the league record in conceded goals.

NWSL Championship Rematch Set

In the second NWSL semifinal, the North Carolina Courage dispatched the Chicago Red Stars with a 2-0 victory in Portland, OR. The Courage will now face the Portland Thorns in the NWSL Championship in a rematch of last year’s final that saw the Thorns beat the Courage, 1-0. Since then, the Courage have only improved and the Thorns will face possibly the best team in NWSL history. It’s a tough task, but the Thorns will have their home crowd backing them up in what is sure to be an amazing championship game this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Christian Pulisic’s Birthday Present

United States and Borussia Dortmund superstar Christian Pulisic turned 20 yesterday and celebrated in the best way possible. In his 100th match with Dortmund, the forward came on as a substitute and was able to score the game-winning goal in BVB’s Champions League match against Club Brugge, although it wasn’t the most beautiful of strikes.

Champions League Recap

Pulisic and Dortmund’s 1-0 win over the Belgian Club Brugge was just one of many matches in the first UEFA Champions League group stage matches yesterday. Lionel Messi’s hat trick helped FC Barcelona take care of business against PSV Eindhoven, while Tottenham suffered an upset at the hands of Inter Milan. But it was the heavyweight match between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain that grabbed headlines as Roberto Firmino scored in extra time to give Liverpool the 3-2 win.

Free Kicks
  • The inaugural Campeones Cup is tonight, with the reigning MLS Cup champions facing off against the winner of the Campeón de Campeones from Liga MX. Toronto FC will face off against Tigres in an intercontinental match that could come at the perfect time for the Canadian club to gain momentum.
  • In case you missed it, there was a little bit of beef between Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley and LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. In his usual form, Zlatan brought out his quick wit and snark by calling Bradley a “philosopher” and noting that Zlatan has scored more goals than Bradley has played games. The American took the words in stride though, and got the last laugh as Toronto walked out with all three points.
  • As Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus gear up for a Champions League showdown with Benfica this afternoon, they will have to do so without winger Douglas Costa after he was served a four-game suspension for spitting.
  • We end our links with this fun game where you try matching each soccer icon with the animal metaphor they used. Good luck!

That’s it from me, folks! You can expect Michael to serve up your links this Friday instead of me. Make sure to check back with us throughout the day for more Orlando City coverage and our PawedCast! Have a great day.