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Lion Links: 7/6/19

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Orlando City and Pride prepare for matches, USWNT dealing with drama, and more.

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, everybody! I hope all of you wonderful Mane Landers had an excellent Fourth of July. We’ve got two Orlando teams in action this evening, with the Lions traveling to Philadelphia for a rematch with the Union at 7 p.m. ET and the Pride hosting the Washington Spirit at Exploria Stadium a mere 30 minutes later. Let’s open the news with a look at how both of the purple squads are preparing for those matches.

Orlando City Flies to Philly for Revenge

Since both of the professional Orlando clubs have games tonight, one of them had to travel and the men of City drew the short straw. The Lions’ superstar, Nani, tweeted that moments of success will be back soon, hopefully a sign that the Lions will be out for blood against the Philadelphia Union.

Sacha Kljestan picked up Orlando City’s second red card in the aforementioned game, and may have seriously injured Philadelphia’s Jamiro Monteiro in the process. Jansson apparently didn’t leave the pitch quick enough after his card and picked up a fine from the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee. There was no mention of Kljestan in the DisCo report.

Depleted Pride Squad to Face Equally Depleted Spirit

For the first time during the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League season, the Orlando Pride will face the Washington Spirit. Both clubs are down United States Women’s National Team players — Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger for the Pride and Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh for the Spirit. Unfortunately, Orlando is also missing some key players to injuries and/or leave. Washington has a few players out too, though I don’t suspect it will hurt the team quite as much as the Pride’s absences. We’ll see what lineup Head Coach Marc Skinner rolls with and how things play out for the Orlando Pride soon enough.

USWNT Trying to Escape Critics and Past Failures

It appears that the criticism the USWNT has been dealing with regarding goal celebrations, and pretty much everything else the players say and do, isn’t going to fade away any time soon. Alex Morgan addressed the significant “double standard” facing women in sports and again explained that her infamous tea celebration “wasn’t a hit to England in any way.” The striker equated the tea sipping to something Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner refers to as “that’s the tea,” causing Turner herself to come to Morgan’s defense. Additionally, English tea company Yorkshire Tea got in on the fun.

Meanwhile, the USWNT still has a sort of important match coming up, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands. Morgan’s fellow controversial forward, Megan Rapinoe, said she’s “feeling really good” and expects “to be healthy for the final” after suffering a minor hamstring knock. Those players who were on the 2011 USWNT squad which lost to Germany in the WWC final are finding motivation from “the most devastating loss” most of them have experienced. When it comes to the final game itself, here’s a great breakdown of each team’s strengths and weaknesses.

FIFA President Discusses Future of Women’s Soccer

Current FIFA President Gianni Infantino hosted the closing press conference of this WWC on Friday. Infantino took the opportunity to praise the tournament, stating it “has been phenomenal, has been incredible, has been emotional, has been passionate, has been fantastic, has been great, has been the best women’s World Cup ever.” That definitely wasn’t the most important piece of information to come from the conference, however. The following five proposals were suggested as features to improve “the future development of women’s football.”

The creation of a FIFA Club World Cup for women: starting as soon as possible.

The creation of a Women’s World League: a proposal put forward already in 2017, to be played in tournaments all over the world.

Expanding the FIFA Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32 teams, potentially already as of the 2023 edition.

To double the prize money for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup.

To double the investment committed to women’s football over the next four-year cycle, from USD 500m to USD 1 billion.

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Enjoy your Saturday! Make sure to support your local watch party for the Lions or get out to the stadium to support the Pride. Go City and go Pride!