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Lion Links: 3/22/19

Sacha Kljestan speaks up, Ali Krieger called up, USMNT wins in Orlando, and more.

Ecuador v United States Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images

What’s up, Mane Landers? I hope everyone that made it out to the U.S. game last night enjoyed themselves and didn’t party too hard on a week night. Hopefully we can ride the high from that win into the weekend with the Orlando SeaWolves, Pride, and Lions all in action.

Before we get to the links, let’s wish a happy birthday to Lamine Sané! The center back is turning 32 years old today and I’m sure he wants nothing more than a win tomorrow for his birthday present.

Kljestan Weighs In After Loss

Following Orlando City’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Impact last weekend, midfielder Sacha Kljestan has spoken out about how the team changed shaped after the Lions found themselves down two goals early. Although the Lions started with four in the back, they did eventually switch to three in the back after trailing early — something Kljestan fully believes is the team’s best shape. According to Kljestan, the change in formation was to help shore up the defense and open up the game for the Lions to try closing the gap.

In that effort to get back into the game, the Lions did score to prevent the shutout but also allowed another goal which Kljestan took full responsibility for.

“I raised my hand and completely said to the group that that goal is completely on me,” Kljestan said. “I made a mistake in the back third. I lost a bad ball in a bad spot and it cost us. But other than that, yeah, we switched up things to get more attacking pieces on the field and really just tried to go after it and unfortunately, we did not do well enough with our chances that we created.”

USMNT Defeats Ecuador in Orlando

Playing at Orlando City Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team won 1-0 against Ecuador in an international friendly. The trio of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams started for the first time, but it was the defense led by captain Tim Ream that stole the show with a shutout and only one shot allowed.

Despite the offensive talent on the field for the U.S., the team’s lone goal didn’t come until the 80th minute. Forward Gyasi Zardes got the ball in open space and his deflected shot took one of the weirdest arcs I’ve ever seen before falling under the crossbar and into the net. It was definitely a lucky break and Zardes deciding to shoot from range instead of finding an open Sebastian Lletget is a questionable choice, but at the end of the day the Yanks got the win.

Krieger Gets First USWNT Call-Up Since 2017

Orlando Pride players Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, and Ashlyn Harris were all called up for a pair of United States Women’s National Team friendlies in April. While Morgan and Harris are national team regulars, Krieger hasn’t been with the team since the USWNT played Russia in April of 2017 and should add some needed talent at right back while Kelley O’Hara battles an ankle injury. Head Coach Jill Ellis had plenty to say about Krieger’s return to the fold for the U.S.

“I spoke with Ali and she’s excited to come into camp and help this team in any way she can. Opportunities, however they transpire, are exactly that, and Ali has been a great pro and will no doubt lean on her experience and strengths when she comes back into this environment.”

Stuck on 98 career caps, let’s hope Ali gets to play in both friendlies to capture that elusive 100th appearance.

SeaWolves Head North

The bad news for Orlando SeaWolves fans is that the team is two games back from a playoff position, sitting fourth in the division. The good news is that the SeaWolves still have six games left, two more than the second place Kansas City Comets and four more than the third-place St. Louis Ambush. So the chance to win games and climb the standings is definitely there as they head to Baltimore, MD for a game tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Baltimore Blast. Tomorrow they will continue their road trip with a game against the Harrisburg Heat before coming back to Florida for a crucial duel with the Comets.

Free Kicks
  • It looks like Swedish center back Robin Jansson is close to taking care of his necessary paperwork to make him eligible to play in MLS.

“I started my career there and I love Orlando,” Larin said. “I loved playing there. The fans were great to me. They made me what I am now. I started there and they gave me a lot. I thanked them. I always follow them and still follow them now. I watch most of their games. I support them.”

That’s all for today, folks. Would you be interested in seeing Larin return to Orlando in the future? Or has that ship sailed with the bridge burned? Let me know in the comments below and have a wonderful weekend!