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Lion Links: 3/1/19

Acosta ready to impress, What to watch for in opener, Spector set for Scotland, and more.

MLS: Orlando City Invitational-New York City FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to March, Mane Landers. Today is the last day we must endure before we get to see what Orlando City is capable in 2019. I don’t know about you all, but the off-season has flown by for me and it’s hard to believe we’re already preparing for the opener.

But before we say hello to our new Lions, let’s wish a happy birthday to an old one as Jonathan Spector turns 33 years old today. Congratulations Specs, now, let’s get to the links!

Danilo Acosta Ready for Redemption

2018 was an admittedly rough year for left back Danilo Acosta, who only had 10 starts with Real Salt Lake and was benched. But now it’s a new year for Acosta and the 21-year-old is taking full advantage of the opportunity given by becoming a Lion under Head Coach James O’Connor. His intensity and attitude has been praised by O’Connor and Acosta hopes to pair success with the Lions this season with potential success with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“That’s the plan, to get back in,” Acosta said. “The only way that I will go back in is if I’m doing really good in the club. If I’m doing really good with the club, playing really well for the team and all that…they’ll see it, they’ll recognize it and at the end of the day, it’ll pay off.

“Even if it doesn’t, I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing. First and foremost, the club comes first. As long as I’m doing good with the club and they see it, and then they call me up, then I’ll take advantage of the opportunity. It would be my second time. You always learn from your first one. Hopefully the second one is better.”

Storylines for Orlando City’s Opener

The biggest things to watch for when the Lions take the field will be centered around the new faces, and there are plenty after an off-season filled with turnover. Between Orlando natives, former Louisville FC players, and Nani, O’Connor has brought in 12 players for the 2019 season and it’ll be interesting to see how they come together on the field.

As for the game itself, it’ll be the third time in five years that OCSC starts the season against New York City FC. However, it will be the first time since the Lions’ first year in MLS in 2015 that they will start the season without Joe Bendik in goal, with MLS veteran Brian Rowe expected to start between the sticks.

Orlando Pride Players Contribute in Australian Victory

Both Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond started in Australia’s Cup of Nations 2-0 victory against Tom Sermanni and New Zealand. Van Egmond nearly opened the scoring for the Matildas but had an uncharacteristic miss in front of goal after former Pride player Steph Catley found her open. But the night belonged to Hayley Raso who returned to the Australian National Team after breaking her back this past August. It took her just three minutes on the field to find the back of the net.

The Matildas continue the tournament on Sunday at 3 a.m. ET against Korea Republic, which just dispatched Argentina.

SeaWolves Return Home, Thiago Makes Team of the Week

After splitting last weekend’s road trip, Head Coach Tom Traxler and the Orlando SeaWolves are glad to be back in sunny Florida as they prepare for back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow night. While the value of playing at home can never be overstated, it will be especially valuable for the team to not have to worry about travel and for the players to sleep in their own beds.

The SeaWolves will play the Milwaukee Wave tonight at 7:35 p.m. ET and will be helped by the potential return of Thiago Freitas, who earned a place as a substitute on the Major Arena Soccer League Team of the Week for his hat trick and assist in an overtime win against the St. Louis Ambush last week.

Concacaf Champions League Results

Round 16 of the Concacaf Champions League has finished, with the final eight teams in the tournament decided. Toronto FC was the only MLS team not to advance, with the Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, Atlanta United, and Sporting Kansas City all moving on to the next round. It was a close call for the MLS Cup champions in particular after Atlanta lost 3-1 in the first leg but won 4-0 in the second leg over Herediano. The four remaining MLS teams will all face non-MLS opponents in the quarterfinals, so the possibility of an all-MLS semifinal may be in the cards.

Free Kicks
  • With New York City fans back in Orlando City Stadium for an opener, OCSC is taking the proper precautions for the match.

That’s all from me, folks, I hope you all get plenty of rest tonight after the SeaWolves game. Tomorrow is going to be insane. Vamos Orlando!