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Lion Links: 5/3/19

Tesho’s doing well, Orlando City’s ready for May, three Pride players make USWNT squad, Atletico Madrid to face MLS All-Stars, and more.

Soccer: Women’s National Team Friendly-Russia vs USA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up, Mane Landers? It’s another exciting weekend with all three of Orlando’s teams in action. Unlike last Saturday’s triple-header, this weekend’s games are spread out, with Orlando City B playing tonight, Orlando City tomorrow, and the Pride on Sunday. But before we can get to the action, we have to get through one last day of the work week. Luckily, I have some links to make the start of your day a little bit better.

Tesho Akindele Doing Well Off the Bench

Named as “probably the underrated player in MLS” by Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor, forward Tesho Akindele is performing well for the Lions so far. Whether it be as a starter or off the bench, the former MLS Rookie of the Year has a good understanding of the different attacking weapons the Lions have at their disposal. Akindele thrives in keeping opponents guessing and a strong work ethic and desire to improve make him a good fit for whatever plans O’Connor has for him in any given match.

Lions Look to Beat the Heat

It’s no secret that Orlando City struggles once May comes around. It was in May of last year that the Lions had an utter collapse, but O’Connor is focusing on his team and not the past.

“No interest in what’s happened here previously in May,” O’Connor said Wednesday morning. “Literally hasn’t even come into my mindset. We’re focused on Toronto. We feel as if the training this week has been really good. We had a great day yesterday. Great intensity. Yeah, my focus is getting ready for Toronto.”

It will be the first time O’Connor has coached this team in May and he praised his sports science and fitness staff as they prepare the team for the rising temperatures that are sure to come.

Pride Trio Make USWNT World Cup Roster

Three Orlando Pride players were called up to the United States Women’s National Team’s World Cup roster for this summer’s tournament. Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger will all be making the trip to France in June. While Morgan and Harris’ inclusion was to be expected, Krieger was a bit of a surprise although she had been called up to the team in recent months for friendlies. We will have to wait and see if Krieger earns her 100th cap, but for now we can be excited for her, Morgan, and Harris as they head to represent their country on the biggest stage.

MLS All-Star Opponent Confirmed

Atletico Madrid will be this year’s opponent for the MLS All-Star game on July 31 at Orlando City Stadium. It will be the first time that the 10-time La Liga champions will be in the the All-Star Game and they should prove a tough opponent for the best in MLS. It won’t be until later this summer that we learn who will represent MLS, but Andrew Wiebe of mlssoccer.com released who he believes will play in the mid-season classic. I don’t know about you, but the idea of Nani and Zlatan playing together already has me excited.

Orlando City B Returns Home Still Winless

The drought continues for Orlando City B as the Young Lions returned from Texas with no more points than when they left. Still without a win, OCB enters its sixth game of the season. Although the team has shown improvement throughout the course of the season, OCB has rarely looked like a team capable of dominating a match. The Young Lions look to change that tonight when they host Chattanooga Red Wolves SC at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Free Kicks
  • While some argue that Krieger’s World Cup inclusion is a testament to USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis mismanaging her fullbacks, Pride forward Sydney Leroux wasted no time in praising Krieger for toughing it out during the journey to this moment.
  • Speaking of the USWNT roster, a ranking was done for how important each player is to the U.S. winning it all this summer. On a hot streak that has lasted over a year, Morgan is set to be one of the veteran players who will be counted on when the team faces adversity.
  • American defender Omar Gonzalez may be returning to MLS, with Toronto FC as a reported destination. Toronto’s defense has been leaky this season and the 30-year-old would start soon, although surely not in time in for Toronto’s game with Orlando tomorrow at 4 p.m.
  • Portland Timbers defender Bill Tuiloma won MLS Goal of the Week honors for his volley off of a corner in the the Timbers’ road win against Toronto.
  • Former OCB goalkeeper Mark Ridgers has signed a new contract with Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC of Scotland.

That’s all from me. I hope all of you have a fantastic Friday and a great weekend. Make sure to stay hydrated as things heat up and temperatures climb.