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Lion Links: 10/6/19

Orlando City looks to finish strong, Pride host Spirit, OCB closes its season, and more.

Orlando Pride v Sky Blue FC Photo by Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. I say that we skip the small talk and just hop right in. What do you say? Wait. Who am I kidding? I decide how this is going down.

Without further ado, here’s your Sunday serving of Lion Links. Gorge at will.

Lions Set to Break Impressive Record

In a season finale that will lack true meaning, Orlando City is still focused on the result, and the team is poised to set a club record for the fewest goals conceded in the club’s MLS history. The boys in purple have only conceded 47 goals this season, a notable drop from the club’s previous record low of 56.

More importantly, this season’s performance, despite just missing out on a first-ever postseason appearance, marks an improvement of more than 25 goals since last season, when the team conceded 74. Many will debate the primary reason why there’s been a marked difference, but in my eyes, it’s a clear improvement on the back line and a heroic season by first-year starter Brian Rowe between the sticks. Benji Michel would add that some credit should go to the wingers, who would often track back to help their defenders.

“We want to have each other’s back,” Michel said. “Whatever it takes for the team to help them from scoring. A lot of the wingers track back to help the defenders out and it’s helped a lot.”

Regardless of whether you think the season was a disappointment or not (unfortunately, I do — a massive misstep in a crucial year before Inter Miami joins the league), one thing is certain: the improvements in this squad have been obvious, and Head Coach James O’Connor and his staff deserve some credit for starting to right the ship. Now, we all look towards next season together.

Pride Fall 3-0 to Washington Spirit

Lacking some of their treasured star power (Marta, Ali Krieger, etc.), the Orlando Pride began a two-match home stand to close out their 2019 campaign last night...and it didn’t go well, much like the majority of the Pride’s season. The Spirit’s Ashley Hatch opened the scoring early, finding the back of the net in only the fifth minute. From there, Crystal Thomas and Tiffany McCarty both penned their name to the scoresheet in the second half in a match that the Pride will be quick to forget before they close out the season at home against Reign FC next weekend.

Orlando City B Drops Season Finale in Richmond

The Young Lions traveled to Virginia to take on the Richmond Kickers to close out their own disappointing 2019 season after a rebirth in the new USL League One. Unfortunately for the young lads in purple, the Kickers were, well, kicking the young Lions all over the field in an a 2-0 OCB loss.

The collapse, if I may call it that for now, of the OCB project has been disheartening to say the least. But, as an optimist, I still have faith that the program will produce a quality first teamer eventually. Things take time, so try to temper your expectations for a few seasons, hope that the front office keeps the program in a healthy state, and let’s see what these youngsters can blossom into. The future is purple.

U.S. Victory Tour Concludes Today; Ellis Tenure Nears its End

Former head coach Jill Ellis will leave the U.S. Women’s National Team program as the all-time winningest coach in U.S. history, and will leave a trail behind her laden with silverware, accolades, glory, and even some controversy. Despite the trials and tribulations, Ellis will bow out later today when her side’s World Cup Victory Tour comes to a close, as the USWNT will line up against Korea Republic in the legendary Soldier Field in Chicago. The team has won all four of its Victory Tour matches without allowing a goal.

Free Kicks
  • Don’t forget that the NWSL auction supporting Toni Pressley doesn’t end until 5 p.m. on Oct. 10. Go get your bids in on some fantastic items to support one of our own.
  • All-time great, legend, icon, (former) sex symbol, known coke enthusiast (erhm, the soda...yeah, the soda), and Argentinian God Diego Maradona has won his first match as manager of Gimnasia, a club in his native Argentina. Congratulations, you crazy son of gun!
  • It may have taken some time, but Eden Hazard has finally scored for Los Blancos. Perhaps this will serve as a turning point for the embattled club. If anyone in the world could serve as a catalyst for such a change, it’s Eden.
  • Don’t look, Tottenham supporters, because Hugo Lloris suffered a dislocated elbow in yesterday’s 3-0 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion’s Falmer Stadium. He’ll be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
  • Okay Spurs supporters, it’s safe now. I have some cool news about your club’s incoming new stadium and it’s high tech pitch!

All right folks, that’s all I’ve got for you this fine Sunday. Enjoy today’s consolation match from the Lions (if you want to even call it that), show some love for Jill Ellis and our USWNT, and have an excellent week.