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Lion Links: 3/10/19

Lions fail to put out Fire, Nani wears the armband, the SeaWolves drown in the Wave, the Pride’s Marc Skinner happy to work with what he’s got, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. I don’t know about you folks, but I’m feeling, in general, a bit indifferent. It’s almost as if my favorite soccer club has started off the season in a tentatively promising manner...without winning. Weird feeling, right? Oh, that’s right, I support OCSC, so a range of emotions is expected weekly (if not daily). What a time to be alive.

Let’s get the ball rolling and hop right into these Links, shall we?

Lions Concede at the Death, Fail to Put Out the Fire in 1-1 Draw

It was looking promising, with Orlando City SC clinging to a 1-0 lead for a majority of the match, but leave it to C.J. Sapong (as always) to spoil the fun. The Chicago Fire stole a point at home, as Sapong’s uncontested (Shane O’Neill, what were you doing?) stoppage time header found its way past new Lion Brian Rowe. That, of course, marks two draws in two matches for the club. While it isn’t ideal, a point on the road in a league where finding any points away from home is difficult is a positive...but it still certainly feels like a loss after leading in goals and men on the field during the start of stoppage time.

And be sure to check in again soon for our Bearded legend’s Five Takeaways.

Nani Wears the Armband

It wasn’t too surprising, as I expected new Lion and Portuguese star Nani to take the captaincy role at some point, but I didn’t expect it to be in his first MLS start. Regardless, Nani took the leadership role we all expected him to, and it showed, as his IQ on the pitch coupled with Dom Dwyer’s tenacity put the Lions up 1-0. This was Nani’s second assist in two games as a Lion. He could have notched another, had Ruan not been taken down from behind after a beautiful through ball, leading to Chicago’s Jorge Corrales’ sending off. Nani brings a lot to the club, possibly more than some had anticipated, and it’ll be exciting to watch the winger strut his stuff in the purple kit. The most important part? He’s already seemed to have built strong relationships, both on and off the pitch, with his teammates.

The SeaWolves Drown in the Wave, 13-2

It’s hard to place blame on a team that loses a match just a day after they emerge with a win, but that’s exactly what happened when the SeaWolves traveled to Milwaukee to face off against the first place Wave. The final score of 13-2 looks pretty bad without context, but the SeaWolves were running on fumes after driving nine hours from Kansas City to face one of the best clubs in the MASL. Gordy Gurson and Osvaldo Rojas did manage to score for Orlando, but the SeaWolves were outshot 34-14 in this one; not a good statistic, that’s for sure. Interested in catching the SeaWolves in action? Their next two matches are back in Florida, with the Florida Tropics coming to town on March 15 and the Kansas City Comets visiting the following day.

Orlando Pride Coach Marc Skinner Happy to Work with Who’s Here

With a bevy of his most talented and notable players away on international duty, new Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has publicly stated that he’s more than happy to work with the players that he has at his current disposal. This is a nice message to convey, especially when Skinner notes that he may have budding stars with him now that aren’t marquee names on the global level.

“I said when I first came in, ‘The name of today might not be the name of tomorrow.’ So, who is the name of tomorrow? It could be that person that puts everything in on that training field and that’s my job. Work with them. Whoever’s here gets worked with. If somebody’s taken out for injury, I’m ready to replace them with somebody that’s ready to work. No excuses. It’s not just for one player here, I’m in for everyone.”

Only time will tell how much of a positive impact Skinner will make on a Pride team that severely underperformed last season, but stories like this give me a good feeling. With all of that said, I’m sure he can’t wait to have all of those talented players back in his squad and back in training.

USMNT’s Zack Steffen Looking Better and Better

Steffen, now on loan at Columbus after his monumental move to Manchester City, is absolutely killing it with the Crew. While this isn’t necessarily the most exciting news to a Lion fan, it certainly is for a USMNT fan. Steffen is starting to carve out his clear-cut role as the top No. 1 for the USMNT, and his performances with the Crew only serve to highlight just how bright the future could be under Gregg Berhalter. Yesterday, yet again, Steffen spoiled a spot kick opportunity from New England’s Diego Fagundez. This isn’t the first time he’s done so, either. In fact, he continues to build upon his reputation as potentially one of the world’s best young goalkeepers, both in the run of play and in defending set pieces and spot kicks. Let’s hope the performances translate to international success for Steffen, because the throne is his for the taking if he keeps it up.

Free Kicks
  • I have so much love for the Orlando City Foundation. It’s my favorite organization to donate to, and the progress they’ve made over the years is astounding.
  • If you’re like me, you like keeping tabs on all of the other results from this weekend’s matches. It’s always nice to be familiar with your opponents.
  • Australia's loss is most certainly a gain for the Pride...but we feel your pain Alanna. Just know that we love you as much as they do!
  • Catch the 2019 SheBelieves Summit here!
  • Hey Mane Landers...I know I don’t need to stress this, because you’re the classiest of the classiest, but don’t be this guy. This guy is the worst.

All right folks, I’m out. Two matches, two points. It could always be worse, right? Yesterday felt like a loss, but it’s important to keep in mind that a draw away from home in this league is still a difficult feat to accomplish (even when it should have clearly been a win). Stay positive, remain optimistic, and have a great Sunday.