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Lion Links: 2/7/19

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Orlando City hosts Louisville City, Lions waive RJ Allen, Pride’s Nairn ready for W-League postseason, SeaWolves honored, and more.

W-League Rd 14 - Perth v Melbourne Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. The Lions were in action yesterday against James O’Connor’s former team and now with two preseason scrimmages behind us, we’re inching closer than ever to the start of the 2019 MLS season.

I still don’t have internet at the brand spanking new Mane Land Towers, but I’ve seen signs of activity, equipment being installed, and work being done all around the place so it will hopefully be coming in the next week or so. It’s been somewhat crippling for a guy who runs a website but I’m doing the best I can to fight through my first world problems and continue to bring you the goods. Speaking of that, let’s dive into the news of the day.

Orlando City Tops Louisville City FC in Friendly Scrimmage, 1-0

Orlando City moved to 1-0-1 on the preseason yesterday with a 1-0 win over Louisville City FC at Orlando City Stadium. You didn’t see it because it was closed. Neither did I. Apparently sometimes there is a stipulation in the contract for these things to be closed. Soccer is weird like that. It’s a far cry from what I’ve experienced in other sports, where they sell tickets and build goodwill and excitement for the season but hey, I don’t make the rules.

Two of the new Lions combined on the game’s only goal, with Tesho Akindele unleashing a blast that the keeper could only parry into the path of the oncoming Joao Moutinho. The former LAFC man nodded home to complete all of the game’s scoring before halftime. The Lions will next face the Philadelphia Union at Championsgate next Tuesday at noon before welcoming New York City FC for the start of the Orlando City Invitational on Feb. 16. Here’s Moutinho’s goal:

Oh, and news on player movement that will provide a clue regarding the opening day roster:

Lions Waive Right Back RJ Allen

After just one season, fullback RJ Allen is no longer a Lion. Although still under contract for 2019, Orlando City released the former New York City FC defender yesterday with an unceremonious announcement consisting of just 62 words. Allen’s contributions to the team were in a backup role at both fullback positions and even center back during an extremely injury-plagued part of the 2018 MLS season. He made 18 appearances as a Lion (10 starts), playing 966 minutes. Allen didn’t score a goal but did assist on two. Good luck to RJ wherever he lands next.

Benji Michel Speaks on Preseason Camp

Orlando City’s newest Homegrown Player spoke to reporters after training this week. Benji Michel isn’t concerned with the bad season the Lions had a year ago. As you’ll see in the video below, he says the 2019 team is trying to win a championship.

“Whatever happened last year is last year. This is a new year. We have a lot of good guys who are willing to put their lives on the line for the team.”

Benji also talked about the intensity jump from college to the pro game, and how good it’s been for him to see some familiar faces from his academy days in terms of building his comfort level.

Orlando Pride’s Nairn Ready for W-League Semifinals

The W-League postseason gets underway this weekend and all four remaining teams have at least one member of the Orlando Pride on their rosters. Midfielder Christine Nairn — spending her off-season with Melbourne Victory — is optimistic as her team will face Rachel Hill’s Perth Glory, a club she’s beaten twice this season.

Alanna Kennedy and Sydney FC will take on the Brisbane Roar (including Chi Ubogagu and Carson Pickett) in the other semifinal. The games will take place late Saturday night Eastern Time and can be streamed on ESPN+.

SeaWolves’ Freitas, Gurson Honored

Following the team’s dramatic road win in St. Louis, the Orlando SeaWolves earned some recognition from the MASL this week. Thiago Freitas was named to the MASL Team of the Week, with Gordy Gurson added as an honorable mention. Freitas, who was acquired last month in a trade, scored four goals — including the game winner late — in Orlando’s 8-7 away victory. Freitas dribbled through three St. Louis players to score the winner. Congrats to Thiago and Gordy.

Manchester United Remember Those Lost in Munich Air Disaster

I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose eight teammates and three members of the staff but that’s exactly what happened to Manchester United 61 years ago. The Reds held a memorial service Wednesday — the 61st anniversary of the event — to commemorate the event and remember those who were lost when the plane crashed on takeoff. Here’s why remembering the Busby Babes still resonates.

Free Kicks
  • You might want to get your popcorn ready is all I’m saying.
  • It seems as if retirement agrees with former USL Lion Brad Rusin.
  • Don’t waste your food, kids. It could get you in trouble. Honestly, who throws a pie?
  • West Ham United is investigating possible racial abuse of Liverpool’s Mo Salah. It’s 2019. Can we knock off this kind of crap already?
  • Gianni Infantino will be back for a second term as FIFA president, as he is running unopposed. Seriously? No one else wants the job? I’ll do it.
  • Referee Mike Dean is approaching a major milestone. The next time he sends someone off, it will be the 100th red card he’s shown in his career.
  • Those born on this date include John Deere (1804), Charles Dickens (1812), Republic of Ireland Manager Mick McCarthy (1959), actor James Spader (1960), Chris Rock (1965), Canadian hoops star Steve Nash (1974), and Ashton Kutcher (1978).

That’s my time for this morning. Enjoy your Thursday and let’s get ready for the weekend.