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Lion Links: 8/10/19

Orlando City heads north, why the Lions vs. Toronto is the game to watch, the Blue Men Group is coming to Exploria Stadium, and more.

Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Happy double match-day, everyone. Aug. 10 is here and it’s the two-year anniversary of Orlando acquiring Dillon Powers for Luis Gil. Please celebrate responsibly.

The Lions are in Toronto to face the Reds and the Pride will host the Dash this evening. If you’re at home, do the double screen thing. If you’re headed to the stadium, you’ll just have to stream the City match.

While we fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way between now and tonight’s pair of 7:30 p.m. kickoffs, we might as well see what’s up in the soccer news.

Lions Again Look for First Win in Toronto

Orlando City has never won at BMO Field and I can’t begin to tell you how much that really chaps my behind. This will be the Lions’ sixth trip to Toronto, where they are 0-4-1 over the course of their first four visits. Last Saturday saw a first, with Orlando finally beating FC Dallas (anywhere). Can the club make it two Saturday firsts in a row? City’s website put together this brief preview for tonight’s match-up

“It will be a tough game but one that we’re excited to go and play at a nice stadium and play such a good team. They have a lot of attacking options, they’ve got [Jozy] Altidore, [Alejandro] Pozuelo, [Michael] Bradley. They’ve got a lot of quality, I mean they’ve obviously got some really good players, so I don’t think it will be just one specific area,” Head Coach James O’Connor said. “We are trying to make sure that there is an understanding of attacking principles and make sure that we have a good idea of what we want to do when we have the ball. I think like everywhere there is a balance to everything, we just need to make sure that we are focused on what we need to do to go and get a positive result there.”

We’ll have a bit more in-depth preview with all of the info you need on how to watch the match. That’ll drop later this morning for you.

Orlando City One of This Weekend’s Teams to Watch

I’m never sure if it’s a good thing when the folks at mlssoccer.com are paying attention to Orlando City, to be honest, but Andrew Wiebe will be doing that tonight. Wiebe listed Dom Dwyer as one of the players he’ll be watching this weekend. We all want Dwyer to hit a run of red-hot form and if it happens soon, it will surely improve the Lions’ chances to capture that elusive first-ever playoff spot. Wiebe seems to have already written off City’s playoff chances, which seems a bit premature with the club sitting four points back with 10 to play, but a loss in Toronto would certainly lower the chances significantly. In addition, tonight’s proverbial “six-point” match between the Lions and Reds is the game Wiebe says he’ll be focused on.

Pride Try to Keep Home Form Rolling vs. Houston

The Orlando Pride may only have three wins in all of 2019 so far, but two of those have come in the most recent home matches. Marc Skinner’s squad will go for three straight at home tonight against the Houston Dash. Scott Carnevale’s preview will drop later on today, but in the meantime I can tell you the Pride will have to deal with the Dash, not the Dynamo, as was tweeted out yesterday by the NWSL.

Lions Earn Respect in Cup Run

As we turn the page on Tuesday night and gain some separation from the emotions of that night, we tend to look back on Orlando City’s U.S. Open Cup run for the accomplishment it was. The team performed better than many expected and earned some respect in the process — something it has yet to do in league play. This piece starts by scratching open the wounds from Tuesday night but then settles into some nice praise for Orlando.

The crowd of 18,461 was the third highest in the tournament’s century-plus history and a sign that soccer is here to stay in FLA. In a city that’s home to Walt Disney’s wonderlands and Universal Studios, a place that trades in the fantasies and mythology of make-believe, Orlando City’s Soccer Club is no illusion. It’s the real deal. And the Exploria Stadium is no soundstage.

Free Kicks
  • Purple won’t be the only color in the house Wednesday when Sporting Kansas City visits Exploria Stadium. Apparently we’ll be getting a visit from the Blue Man Group as well.
  • Mesut Özil may not be joining D.C. United, but the MLS side will be selling the Arsenal star’s coffee at Audi Field.
  • The Vancouver Whitecaps added former Toronto forward Tosaint Ricketts.
  • The EPL returned Friday with Liverpool drubbing Norwich City, 4-1. The marquee match-up, however, is tomorrow, with Chelsea visiting Manchester United.
  • Those born on this date include chocolate empire founder Henry Nestlé (1814), former U.S. President Herbert Hoover (1874), entertainer and sausage king Jimmy Dean (1928), Cleveland Indians great Rocky Colavito (1933), Ronettes lead singer Ronnie Spector (1943), Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson (1947), Rosanna Arquette (1959), writer Suzanne Collins (1962), basketball’s John Starks (1965), FOX sportscaster Gus Johnson (1967), former Manchester United great Roy Keane (1971), The Leftovers star Justin Theroux (1971), and actress Angie Harmon (1972).

That’s all my time for this morning. Check back throughout the day for full coverage of Orlando City at Toronto FC and the Orlando Pride vs. the Houston Dash.