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Lion Links: 3/24/19

The Lions win in New York, the Pride lose in North Carolina, the SeaWolves can’t beat the Heat, and more.

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MLS: Orlando City SC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. I hope you’re all having yourselves a solid weekend. I am, sort of. Personally, my local club team has a match today at 9 a.m., and hopefully we can take home three points. I’m a bit hobbled with multiple nagging injuries, but until my body forces me out, I’ll be on the pitch working my ass off (please be okay, knee). Speaking of taking home three points though, how about those Lions?!

I buried the lede there, didn’t I? I won’t spoil it in the introduction, though. Let’s hop right in.

Lions Win Their First of the 2019 Campaign

What a time to be alive. The Lions have finally notched a win, away from home nonetheless, against one of the stronger MLS sides in the New York Red Bulls, 1-0. It was Sacha Kljestan who played the hero, as he scored against his former side in the 73rd minute. João Moutinho provided the assist, and it was a thing of beauty. The Lions managed to hold on to the match from there, and put what we hope will be one of many wins under their proverbial belt. Time will tell, but as always, I’ve ever-optimistic that this club will break into the playoffs for the first time in their short MLS history. I know I’m jumping the gun, but I like saying it. Don’t you like hearing it?

Tune in later today for Dave Rohe’s five takeaways from the match.

James O’Connor Praises Gregg Berhalter

Orlando City gaffer James O’Connor was on hand to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team train ahead of the Yanks’ 1-0 win against Ecuador at Orlando City Stadium, and he had nothing but praise to hand over to the Yanks’ new man at the helm, Gregg Berhalter. To be transparent, O’Connor has always been a fan of Berhalter, and even endorsed him for the position before it was official, but O’Connor has really heaped the praise on Berhalter following the international friendly.

“Gregg is someone who I’ve got great respect for,” O’Connor said. “I was so pleased that he got the job. I think, when you look at how he started in Columbus, obviously, the struggle initially, and then to be able to build a program the way he did, I think he deserved enormous credit. I think he was very deserving to be given the opportunity to be national team coach. He’s someone that I have, I would say, real admiration for. His journey, the way he’s handled himself and the way his teams play.”

It’s uplifting to see the Lions’ leader praising the Yanks’ leader, at least it is for me as a devout supporter of both. Let’s just hope that the two continue to develop their players and improve the quality of their sides — something that’s been somewhat of a challenge for both in recent years.

Pride Lose to the Courage, 4-0

There’s a lion pun in there somewhere, but the preseason match itself was no joke, as the Orlando Pride lost in convincing fashion to the defending champion North Carolina Courage in preseason action. The final result was a 4-0 drubbing that highlighted the class of an always-strong Courage side. Hopefully, Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner will use this match as a catalyst to improvements within his squad. It may have just been preseason play but the match can serve as an early wake-up call to just how far behind the club is in comparison to the league’s strongest team from 2018. Weaknesses were exposed all over the pitch but the Pride will have their work cut out for them if they have the lofty, yet expected, ambitions of reaching the playoffs this upcoming season.

SeaWolves Succumb to the Heat, 15-10

Last night, the Orlando SeaWolves were in Pennsylvania playing against the Harrisburg Heat. Unfortunately, the MASL newcomers couldn’t walk away with a win, falling 15-10, and in the process made their playoff aspirations just a touch harder to reach. The Heat jumped on Orlando early but the SeaWolves battled back and made a game of it by the end of the first quarter. The SeaWolves see action again on Friday, March 29, as they host the Kansas City Comets in Silver Spurs Arena in a crucial divisional match.

Free Kicks

That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks, so I’m out. Have yourselves an excellent Sunday and an even better week!