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Lion Links: 10/8/19

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JOC gone, Burdett reflects on her debut, Pressley’s story, and more.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers. The MLS season came to a rather painful end yesterday for Orlando City, and in the wake of some news that will be discussed below it seemed to be a case of life kicking Lions fans when we’re already down. Let’s get straight into the links today, shall we?

OCSC Fires JOC

Orlando City SC has fired James O’Connor. Once again the Lions will be starting over after announcing yesterday that the club has “agreed to part ways” with now former head coach James O’Connor. At this point it’s difficult to say what exactly sealed JOC’s fate. While he didn’t have the best record during his time with the club and the bottom fell out at a time when the club was attempting to challenge for a playoff spot, things weren’t all bad during his tenure. The team did seem to be heading in the right direction on the field as the defense improved, the team made a first ever U.S. Open Cup semifinal appearance, and the overall mentality seemed to improve from where it was in the past. Now though, the team must look to move forward from what Luiz Muzzi says was a very difficult decision.

Toni Pressley’s Story

If you aren’t familiar with Toni Pressley and what she’s been through this year, you should probably sit up and take notice. The Orlando Pride defender was diagnosed with breast cancer back in July, smack in the middle of the NWSL season. It was news that shocked those of us who follow the team, and the league as a whole. The good news is that Pressley had the cancer removed, and is now on the road to recovery. Furthermore she’s using her platform as a professional soccer player to bring awareness to the disease. She’s partnered with Libby’s Legacy, a nonprofit organization that helps under-served members of the community get cancer screenings and treatment. The Orlando Pride have also declared their final home game of the season this Saturday the team’s first ever Breast Cancer Awareness Game.

Burdett Finds Her Feet

Lainey Burdett found herself thrust in between the sticks for the Orlando Pride on Saturday with Ashlyn Harris unavailable through international duty. It wasn’t the easiest of debuts for the rookie — she faced 12 shots and the Pride lost 3-0, but it wasn’t all bad for her either. She was quick to come off her line, commanded her box well, and made some good saves, the first of which was particularly spectacular. Her teammates took notice too, with Carson Pickett praising her direction and communication abilities. Hopefully it isn’t the last we see of her.

Burdett Up For SotW

If nothing else, we’ll be seeing more of Burdett in this edition of Lion Links because she was also nominated for the latest edition of the NWSL Save of the Week. It took until the 58th minute for Burdett to make the first save of her career but as I mentioned above it was a doozy. She got a strong hand to a fierce, dipping drive from distance courtesy of Tiffany McCarty, and managed to tip it over the bar. The save kept the game at 1-0 and the Pride in the game, and while the team eventually went on to lose, it was still a promising sign of what the young goalkeeper is capable of.

Free Kicks

The only Orlando soccer to give y’all a heads up about this week is something I mentioned earlier. The Orlando Pride will play their final game of the season this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. E.T. from Exploria Stadium in a game that also doubles as the team’s first ever Breast Cancer Awareness Game. If you aren’t busy, grab some tickets for the game and go out and show the Pride some love during their final outing of the 2019 season. Y’all stay safe out there.