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Lion Links: 7/30/19

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Lions donating tickets, community day a success, a look back at Orlando’s story, and more.

MLS: MLS Works Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers. It’s All-Star Week here in Orlando, which means that much of today’s news has something to do with the said event, as is to be expected. The spectacle itself takes place tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET sharp from Exploria Stadium.

But that’s not all worth celebrating as today also marks Dom Dwyer’s 29th birthday, so we wish him a big congratulations. Now, let’s get to the links!

Lions Donating ASG Tickets to Local Organizations

Orlando City has announced that the team has bought 175 tickets to the MLS All-Star Game and will be donating them to eight local youth organizations. The club is doing so as part of its effort to better the local community, something that has been highlighted and emphasized in the build-up to the All-Star Game. A number of the organizations are located very close to the club’s home in the Parramore neighborhood near downtown Orlando, something that club CEO Alex Leitao and District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill considered very important.

Community Day a Success

The All-Star Community Day was definitely successful yesterday as two mini soccer pitches were unveiled at Neptune Middle School. The play spaces were created as part of MLS’ larger initiative to give back to the communities that its clubs call home and part of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s efforts to create 1,000 such mini pitches all over the country by 2026. The play spaces will also join forces with It’s Everyone’s Game in order to try and bring soccer to children in underserved communities. MLS Commissioner Don Garber was on hand for the unveiling alongside members of the MLS All-Star Team and Diego Forlan.

Reviewing Orlando’s Journey to MLS

Ahead of Orlando hosting the MLS All-Star Game for the first time, MLSsoccer.com took a quick look back at how the club got to Major League Soccer in the first place. Those of you who have been around from the beginning of the club’s start in Orlando will remember that the team used to be the Austin Aztex, before Phil and Kay Rawlins relocated the team to Central Florida in 2011. The team then spent four seasons in the USL, winning the league in both its first and third years and making the playoffs during all four seasons. The club announced its MLS bid had been accepted on Nov. 19, 2013, played its inaugural MLS game in 2015, and hasn’t looked back since.

Nani Enjoying All-Star Week

Nani has been busy soaking up all of the festivities leading up to the MLS All-Star Game, which is the sort of event that he’s never really participated in before this year. He’s been enjoying training with the other All-Stars, many of whom he faced off against during the time in his career when he was plying his trade in Europe. He also is backing Orlando to beat out Atletico Madrid and the other All-Stars in the Skills Challenge, an opinion that isn’t terribly surprising considering he’ll be competing in the event. He went on to speak about the fast pace of play in MLS and how he’s had to alter his game slightly because of it. Most importantly for Orlando fans though, he says he’s enjoyed his first season in the league; so hopefully he stays a Lion for the foreseeable future!

Free Kicks
  • Members of the MLS All-Star team met with Atletico Madrid ahead of the All-Star clash.

That’ll do it for me today. Just because the All-Star Game is this week doesn’t mean the regularly scheduled soccer stops. Orlando City B and Orlando City both play on Saturday, with OCB on the road against Lansing and the Lions back in the familiar confines of Exploria Stadium looking to get a much-needed victory against FC Dallas. Y’all stay safe out there.