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Lion Links: 1/25/19

Kyle Smith prepares the Lions, Rachel Hill scores, Orlando City B’s latest signing, and more.

W-League Rd 13 - Western Sydney v Perth Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images

What’s up, Mane Landers? It’s another great day here in the Sunshine State as the Lions continue their preseason training and we have some indoor and national team soccer to look forward to this weekend. Let’s get to the links!

Fullbacks Prepared to Impress in Preseason

Although Orlando City right back Kyle Smith has never been in MLS, he is one of the only players on the team with experience going through Head Coach James O’Connor’s preseason training. So it makes sense that many of the Lions turned to him for advice on what the weeks leading up to the season would be like.

“I try to help them and tell them you’ve got to be ready,” he told Pro Soccer USA. “I know it’s going to be challenging, but just push through because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just very intense. It starts off hard. It continues to be hard throughout the entire preseason. You’ve just got to keep pushing and eventually you will make it through.”

Regardless of the tough task in front of him, Smith is prepared to make the most of the opportunity presented to him. The same goes for left back Danilo Acosta who is joining Orlando on loan after losing his starting job with Real Salt Lake last season. Acosta hopes to not only impress O’Connor, but himself, as he works on improving his fitness and adding new facets to his game.

Hill Scores and Helps Sets a Record

The Perth Glory had kicked Round 13 in the W-League off on the right foot by dominating the Western Sydney Wanderers in a 5-1 rout. Australian forward Sam Kerr stole the show with a brace and an assist in the affair, setting the W-League record for most goals scored in a season after Orlando Pride forward Rachel Hill found her in front of goal in the 70th minute.

Hill found the net herself in the 84th minute. Her goal took some effort to get past the Wanderers goalkeeper, but the third time was the charm. The 23-year-old now has five goals this season, seven behind Kerr’s record 12, and leads the league in assists with six.

Orlando City B Signs Defensive Standout

Speaking of Hills, let’s give a warm welcome to Jordan Hill, who was recently signed by Orlando City B. A four-year starter with Davidson College, Hill was noted for his ability to anchor a back line and for winning balls in the air. He joins an exciting OCB team that is ready to take the USL League One by storm when the season starts late in March.

Atlanta United Ready to Throw a Pity Party

One of the most talked about rumors this season came to fruition with Atlanta United signing Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez from River Plate in Argentina. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder was named South American Player of the year in 2018 and will bring his expertise to an offense loaded with talent.

Possibly too loaded however, as Atlanta now has one too many Designated Players on its roster and will have to work that problem out before the season begins. It may be a good problem to have, but it is a problem that Head Coach Frank de Boer will have to solve nonetheless.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando Pride draft pick Marisa Viggiano and other NWSL newcomers gave some insight into how excited they are about playing with and against some of the best players in the world.
  • The Orlando SeaWolves are looking to turn back-to-back wins into a streak when they take on the St. Louis Ambush tonight at 7:35 p.m. and it seems the team has a surprise in store for those in attendance.

That’ll do it for today, folks. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with fun and joy. Here’s a quick video from training as O’Connor whips the Lions into shape. Vamos Orlando!