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Lion Links: 6/21/19

Nani is an MLS All-Star, the USWNT wins again, Women’s World Cup bracket set, and more.

Sweden v USA: Group F - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Let’s all take a collective breath, shall we? It’s our first day without a Women’s World Cup game since the tournament started and a great chance for us all to relax before a busy Saturday. Tomorrow, the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and the United States Men’s National Team will all be in action and the World Cup knockout stage will begin. But for now, let’s kick back and all enjoy some Lion Links to start our Friday off right.

Nani Named to All-Star Game

Orlando City midfielder and Portugal international Nani was selected to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game that will be held at Exploria Stadium on July 31. Part of the Fan XI, Nani garnered plenty of votes from around the league after a strong 2019 campaign so far. The 32-year-old leads Orlando City with eight goals and four assists this season and is a dark horse candidate for both MLS MVP and Newcomer of the Year. Nani becomes the fifth Lion to be named an All-Star and we will have to wait to see if another Lion joins him this year.

USWNT Wins Over Sweden, Faces Spain

Getting some revenge for the team’s loss in the 2016 Olympics, the United States Women’s National Team beat Sweden 2-0 in its final FIFA Women’s World Cup group stage match. Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan wore the captain’s armband before taking it off when she was subbed out after the first half, while Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris spent the match on the bench. Midfielder Lindsey Horan opened the scoring early in the third minute and an own goal after a Tobin Heath strike in the second half doomed Sweden as the U.S. cruised.

With the win, the U.S. won its group and will play Spain on June 24. It’s a little weird that the team with 18 goals scored and none conceded doesn’t earn a match with one of the third-place finishers, but that’s just the way this cookie was going to crumble.

World Cup Bracket Set in Stone

Pride defender Shelina Zadorsky played a full 90 minutes in Canada’s 2-1 loss at the hands of the Netherlands yesterday. The result placed Canada second in the group with a knockout match against Sweden looming on June 24.

As for the other Pride players, Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond will face off with Norway tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET. After a third-place finish in Group C, Marta and Camila will play on June 23 when Brazil takes on France in a heavyweight match where the winner may face the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Make sure to check out the knockout schedule and how the rest of the bracket shakes out.

USMNT Facing an Interesting Test

Although United States Men’s National Team midfielder Michael Bradley doesn’t think there’s much weight in a rematch with Trinidad and Tobago, it’s hard to imagine revenge isn’t on the mind of both players and fans when the Yanks face the Soca Warriors tomorrow night in the Gold Cup. A win for the USMNT would both clinch a berth into the quarterfinals and eliminate Trinidad and Tobago.

While the team is vastly different than the team that lost the qualifier back in 2017, that is part of why this match has the attention of many fans as it will be a good chance to see how this young team compares. The tension isn’t one-sided however, as former Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino warns that the USMNT may be headed towards more disappointment.

Free Kicks
  • The Orlando Pride are still hunting for their first win of the season and will get their chance tomorrow at 7 p.m. when they take on Sky Blue FC on the road. It’s been a difficult season so far, but the Pride are ready.
  • The movement to have 2026 World Cup games played here in the Orlando area now has solid look.

That’s going to be it from me, folks. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and stay hydrated out there.