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Lion Links: 11/15/19

USMNT enjoys Orlando, Pride players in Australia, Impact hire Henry, and more.

Orlando Pride v Seattle Reign Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are enjoying the cooler weather as we head into the weekend. I can’t believe we are at the halfway point of November and less than 50 days from 2020. Before we get to today’s links, let’s wish a happy 28th birthday to Orlando City defender Robin Jansson!

Berhalter Praises Orlando’s Atmosphere

The United States Men’s National Team takes on Canada tonight in our backyard at Exploria Stadium. The team isn’t afraid of failure heading into the match, despite losing to its northern neighbor last month in Toronto. Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley won’t be playing, but Sergino Dest is expected to take the field and assured media that the U.S. won’t lose. Head Coach Gregg Berhalter believes that the home-field advantage of playing in Orlando will be a big help for the U.S. tonight and expects plenty of support from local fans.

“Winning at home is critical in these tournaments, so finding a home-field advantage is important,” Berhalter said of Orlando. “When you talk about great environments, the atmosphere in this stadium is one of the best in the country. Like we’ve seen in previous visits, the fans in Orlando are there when you need them and we look forward to their support.”

Five Pride Players Ready for W-League

With the Orlando Pride’s season over and done with, five Pride players will now join Australian teams to compete in the W-League with the first round of games this weekend. Alanna Kennedy returns to Sydney FC and is a key player to watch as the team tries to defend its title. Fellow Matilda Emily van Egmond also returns to the W-League this season but this year will be spent with Melbourne City rather than the Newcastle Jets, where she played for the past six seasons. She’s joined on the team by Scottish forward Claire Emslie, who is playing in the W-League for the first time.

Also making her W-League debut is defender Camila, who was recently brought on to play for Canberra United. Rounding out the group is Carson Pickett as she returns to the Brisbane Roar for another strong season. It should be an exciting season and you can catch all the action on ESPN+ if you live here in the U.S.

Thierry Henry Returns to Major League Soccer

The Montreal Impact named soccer legend Thierry Henry as their new head coach on a two-year contract. Henry returns to the league after retiring as a player for the New York Red Bulls in 2014 and everyone is pretty thrilled to have him back in the league, even if just on the sidelines. The 42-year-old has his work cut out for him, but his legend status and time as assistant coach for Belgium could help bring in big names like Blaise Matuidi, Dries Mertens, or Cesc Fabregas.

Projected Protections for the Expansion Draft

In case you didn’t know, the list of eligible players for the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft drops tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Benjamin Baer of gave his predictions for who will and won’t be protected for the draft. Sacha Kljestan, Will Johnson, Brian Rowe, and Oriol Rosell are some of the more intriguing names he predicts to be unprotected by Orlando City. Baer also predicts a number of interesting former Lions to be left unprotected, such as Kevin Molino, Mohamed El-Munir, and Joe Bendik so it will be interesting to see how it actually all shakes out.

Free Kicks
  • Enjoy this in-depth look at Exploria Stadium’s grounds crew and how they maintain the field during the off-season.
  • Most of this NWSL season’s biggest saves came from the Pride’s Ashlyn Harris and Haley Kopmeyer.

That will do it for today, Mane Landers. I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful Friday and a relaxing weekend!