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Lion Links: 10/11/19

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Nani up for Goal of the Year, OCB’s new home, Pressley ready to return, and more.

SOCCER: JUN 24 NWSL - Houston Dash at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What’s up, Mane Landers? This will be our last weekend of Orlando soccer for a while, so make sure to go out and enjoy it if you’re able to. The United States Men’s National Team is also in action tonight, so there is plenty to get excited about once the work day is over. This off-season is set to be hectic with rumors swirling around but the next few days should let us kick back with our favorite drink and take in our favorite sport. But before we get to all of that, let’s get to the links!

Lions Recognized After the Season

The season may have ended in disappointment for Orlando City, but a few Lions earned some praise after a strong first season in purple. Nani was nominated for MLS Goal of the Year for his memorable goal at home against the New England Revolution to draw the Lions level in what ended as a 3-3 draw. Nani’s swerving strike will go up against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Vela, and Wayne Rooney, so make sure to go vote.

Goalkeeper Brian Rowe was also nominated for MLS Save of the Year for his one-handed denial of the Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliott in an eventual 2-2 draw. Also getting a bit of a shout-out, Sebas Mendez landed on Bobby Warshaw’s list of MLS defensive midfielders who deserve respect after the Ecuadorian’s solid 2019 season.

Orlando City SC Adds Stadium to Future Plans

The club secured the rights to a 5,400-seat baseball stadium at Osceola Heritage Park, with a full redevelopment planned to make it a soccer-specific venue and the new home of Orlando City B in 2020. The move makes sense as the club moves all of its training operations to the area and encourages an infrastructure where the academy and first team are in close proximity. The new stadium will host other events as well and will feature the same playing surface as Exploria Stadium and the Orlando Pride’s future training facility in Sylvan Lake Park.

Pressley Expected to Return in Season Finale

Just three months after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Pride midfielder Toni Pressley is anticipated to play in the club’s last game of the season and the team’s first Breast Cancer Awareness Match. After battling cancer, Pressley has worked her way back into the team’s training and full-contact practice with the squad. Head Coach Marc Skinner is prepared to play her in the team’s home game against Reign FC, and her teammates are all ready to have the veteran back in action. For Pressley though, she believes the feeling of finally being back with the Pride and on the field will be indescribable.

“I don’t think excited is the word,” Pressley said. “I don’t know if I have a word for it. It’s going to be an amazing feeling. Three, four months ago, not knowing what my future held, to now play again the sport that I love, it’s just unbelievable.”

USMNT Starts Nations League Journey

The U.S. will take on Cuba in Washington D.C. tonight in the team’s first Nations League match at 7 p.m. ET. While most attention is on the USMNT’s upcoming matches against Canada, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and his team are focused on tonight’s test against a Cuba team it should be able to handle. Both Jozy Altidore and Walker Zimmerman withdrew from the roster, but Josh Sargent will get his first competitive start.

Free Kicks
  • The NWSL-wide auction in support of Pressley’s chosen charity, Libby’s Legacy, may have ended yesterday but it is never too late to become more aware about breast cancer and what to listen and pay attention to.

That will do it for me, folks. I hope each and every one of you has an awesome Friday and celebrates responsibly.