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Lion Links: 4/9/19

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Lions in the MLS Team of the Week, Skinner wants the best for Pride players, impressions from Orlando City’s victory, and more.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers. There was certainly plenty to celebrate in Orlando City’s victory over the Colorado Rapids, but my (probably unlikely) hope is that future victories will be much less stressful than the Lions’ first home win of 2019. There’s plenty to discuss today, so let’s dive right in.

Lions in Team of the Week

Two Lions are included in this week’s edition of the MLS Team of the Week, with Ruan and Nani both making the starting XI. Nani was included for his headline-grabbing brace — including the game-winning goal — and a hockey assist. Ruan, meanwhile, terrorized Colorado all night long. He played a big part in three of Orlando’s four goals, essentially played Dillon Serna off the field by halftime, had the most touches on the team, and was generally a menace most every time he touched the ball. Congratulations to both of them on worthy inclusions.

Skinner Wants Best for Pride

Marc Skinner has spoken about how he wants to do more than simply install a new tactical system for the Orlando Pride. A new system is certainly part of what he’s trying to do, but he’s also trying to implement a new culture with the team. He believes that a big part of success is the players enjoying what they do and that part of the team’s success during the preseason is down to exactly that sort of mentality. Carson Pickett thinks the Pride are closer than they were last year and believes the off-field chemistry they share carries over onto the field. With a positive attitude coming from the top and trickling down to the players, it’s now up to them to turn that positivity into results once the NWSL season kicks off this weekend.

Impressions From the Victory

There are definitely plenty of talking points from the weekend’s admittedly flawed victory. For one thing, giving up three goals at home to a team that’s had its fair share of struggles in the young season is concerning no matter how you slice it. It’s also the second time the Lions have given up three goals at home, including yet another early goal. While there were also plenty of bright spots like Ruan’s and Tesho Akindele’s effectiveness, the defense simply has to be sorted out, with Orlando looking particularly susceptible after Carlos Ascues’ injury forced a switch to a back four. Hopefully the good things stick around going forward while the mistakes and suspect defending are slowly stamped out.

Lions Climbing Power Rankings

Orlando City is slowly but surely continuing to climb ESPN’s MLS power rankings, finding itself at No. 15 this week, up two spots from last week. Meanwhile, the Rapids sit 23rd following their loss to Orlando and next week’s opponent, Real Salt Lake, is placed 18th following a 1-0 loss to Seattle. LAFC is still undefeated and in the top spot, while the Portland Timbers are still winless and rank dead last. The ranking I found myself most disagreeing with was the New York Red Bulls in 12th, ahead of a Cincinnati side that’s been getting results even while perhaps punching above its weight, and only one spot behind the Minnesota United team that it just lost to at Red Bull Arena.

Free Kicks
  • The Greek Freak isn’t half bad at keepy uppy.

That’ll be all for me today. There’s plenty of Orlando soccer to keep you entertained this week. First up, the Orlando SeaWolves take on Utica City FC in the familiar confines of Silver Spurs Arena on Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Then on Saturday, The SeaWolves close their inaugural season at home against the Florida Tropics at 7:05 p.m. and Orlando City takes on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium at 9 p.m. ET. Sunday then sees Orlando City B face off against Tormenta FC at home, and the Orlando Pride open their season at home against Portland Thorns FC, with both of those games taking place at 5 p.m. Y’all stay safe out there.