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Lion Links: 3/5/19

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Pride announce preseason roster, day one of NWSL preseason, Lions receive recognition, and more.

TAG Heuer Announces New Partnership wWth Orlando City SC & Orlando Pride Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for TAG Heuer

Happy Tuesday, y’all. The first game of the season has come and gone, and I’m back on my normal Lion Links schedule. Obviously it wasn’t the result we were all hoping for, but personally I thought there were a lot of positive things to be taken out of the point that was rescued against NYCFC. Hopefully there are only better things to come over the course of the year. There’s plenty to discuss today, so let’s get right into it.

Pride Announce Preseason Roster

The Orlando Pride announced their preseason roster yesterday, with 25 players being listed for the team’s preseason training camp, which also opened yesterday. In addition to the roster announcement, news dropped that five players had signed new deals with the club — Haley Kopmeyer, Toni Pressley, Camila, Rachel Hill, and Danica Evans. An important note is that while Sydney Leroux is listed, she will in all likelihood miss most of the season due to her pregnancy. In addition to the senior roster, which stands at 17 bodies, there are two rookies and six trialists, bringing the total number up to 25.

Pride Preseason Day 1

‘The Pride opened preseason camp yesterday, giving new Head Coach Marc Skinner the very first opportunity to work with his new charges. He spoke how being in camp with his new team was “the most amazing feeling” and said that while he hasn’t had the chance to speak with every player on the roster yet due to some being away on international duty, he plans to sit down with everyone over the next few weeks. One of the players he has been impressed by is Ali Krieger, who has gone on the record saying that she feels about 10 years younger going into this year. Despite suffering a troublesome MCL injury last year that resulted in missing games for the very first time in her NWSL career, she says that she’s ready and feeling strong. Skinner seems to share the sentiment that Kreiger has been training her ass off (Krieger’s words), as he praised her energy and running ability as well as the job she’s done encouraging and leading some of the younger players on the team.

Recognition for Two Lions

Chris Mueller was a big part of many of the things that Orlando City did well over the weekend. He scored the free kick that halved the deficit and in general was full of energy, ideas, and the drive that fans have come to expect from him. The second-year player was duly rewarded with a place on the bench in 2019’s first MLS Team of the Week. Even though he didn’t play a full 90 minutes during the first game of the season on Saturday, Nani still made his presence felt, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed around the league. MLSsoccer.com put him at No. 9 of their Top 10 MLS Debutantes, which is definitely deserved praise for the hockey assist the Portuguese winger picked up on Tesho Akindele’s game-tying goal, not to mention the overall quality he brought upon his introduction. Congratulations, guys!

Rowe Impressed by Lions’ Resolve

In his first regular season game with OCSC, new goalkeeper Brian Rowe was impressed with the Lions’ grit and resolve as the team came back from two goals down to earn a point. Before Monday’s training session the man between the sticks spoke about how it was a little difficult not having any saves in the first half while also being down by a pair of goals. However, he also added that everyone on the team, himself included, believed that a comeback was possible. That belief, and the fact that a comeback materialized are good signs for an Orlando team that all too often looked short of effort and drive during last year’s miserable campaign; hopefully those are things that carries over as the season continues

Toronto FC Sign Pozuelo

After Sebastian Giovinco’s departure, there was quite clearly a gap that needed to be plugged in Toronto FC’s starting lineup. The team has seemingly found its plug with the signing of Alejandro Pozuelo from Belgium’s KRC Genk. Pozuelo has been signed as a Designated Player and is set to join up with the club on March 18 after negotiations that had apparently been ongoing for some time. The 27-year-old attacking midfielder will depart Genk with 175 appearances, 25 goals and a whopping 60 assists in all competitions across four seasons with the club. He has also logged time in the Premier League and La Liga and could end up being a vital player for a TFC needing a replacement for its former talisman.

Free Kicks

That’ll be all for me today. Don’t forget that the Lions’ next game is this Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on the road against the Chicago Fire, a game that is being carried by ESPN+. Y’all stay safe out there. Ciao.