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Lion Links: 4/19/19

Sebas Mendez praised, Orlando’s slow starts, Orlando City B seeks first win, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up, Mane Landers? Hopefully you all have had a good week as we head into Easter weekend. It’s going to be filled with painted eggs, chocolate, and some soccer with Orlando City set to play tomorrow and Orlando City B set to play tonight. And, of course, the Pride are back at it on Sunday night. But before we can sink our teeth into sweet treats, let’s get to the links!

Méndez Finding His Place Among Lions

Brought in by Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi, 21-year-old Sebas Méndez is doing well in the midfield for the Lions so far. A workhorse on both sides of the ball, the Ecuadorian midfielder leads the team in passing percentage (86.7%) and ranks second in tackles per match (2.7). Méndez has completed 99 of his 109 passes in the past two games and his ability to get the ball safely from the back line and forward to attackers has earned him praise from Head Coach James O’Connor.

“He has a good understanding of playing through the thirds,” said James O’Connor. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us is making sure that whoever the midfielders are that they have a good understanding of breaking lines. I think that’s something Sebas does very effectively. He’ll play forward on angles and make it very difficult for the opponents.”

Lions Look to End Slow Starts

Giving up an early goal is an issue that has plagued the Lions well before 2019, but it’s one that O’Connor is still dealing with. Orlando City has given up the first goal in five of its seven games this year and all have come less than 20 minutes into the game in a trend that O’Connor says needs to stop. While being known for thrilling comebacks as the “Cardiac Cats” is fun, it would be nice for Orlando to not have to rely on late subs and theatrics for results.

Young Lions Seeking Victory

With three games played and only one point to show from it, Orlando City B isn’t exactly thriving in its return season. However, that point came from a draw last week as the Young Lions did two crucial things they couldn’t in their first two games: score first and play with all 11 men. It’s nothing worth celebrating, but it is a step in the right direction as the team now hosts Forward Madison FC, which has yet to win this season as well. Make sure to make the trip out to Montverde Academy tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET as OCB looks for its first win of the season.

Cincinnati Chosen For Final Gold Cup Tune-Up

Before the Gold Cup starts this summer, the United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly on June 9 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, OH against Venezuela. It will be the USMNT’s first game at the home of FC Cincinnati as the city fully embraces its love for soccer this year. As for the USMNT, it will be the last opportunity for Head Coach Gregg Berhalter to work out any kinks before leading the Yanks into the Gold Cup a little over a week later.

Free Kicks
  • Remember, the Lions won’t be in purple when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps tomorrow. Instead, they’ll be sporting the smooth blue of this year’s Parley jerseys.

That’s all from me folks! I hope you all enjoy your Friday and your weekend. Drive safely and celebrate responsibly.