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Lion Links: 8/11/19

The Lions draw, the Pride lose, El Paso stands together after tragedy, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Toronto FC Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, Mane Landers! We’ve got a bevy of content to dive into today, thanks in part to the Lions and the Pride both taking the field last night. As you read this, I’ll be taking the field too!

My club team, Orlando United FC, has various scrimmages slated for today as we prepare for the 2019 spring season in the Central Florida Soccer League. I’ve been an attacker for the majority of my playing career, but I now play center back and wing back. Weird how things change over time, right?

Let me not drone on about stuff you don’t care about. In fact, let me drone on about stuff you do care about. Let’s do it. Here’s your Sunday serving of Lion Links, folks. Bon appétit.

Lions Travel to Toronto, Draw 1-1

The Lions (8-11-6, 30 points) pounced first in this one, courtesy of substitute Benji Michel, but the dreaded BMO Field curse continued as a lucky bounce from a set piece fell perfectly for the Reds, who equalized in a 1-1 road draw. Michel came off the bench to give the boys in purple a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute (and hope to all of us supporters watching), but Patrick Mullins scored from a set piece just under 10 minutes later and Orlando made up no ground on Toronto (9-10-6, 33 points) in the MLS playoff race. I remain optimistic.

And be sure to keep an eye out for our Bearded Guy’s five takeaways, slated to release later today!

Pride Host the Dash — It Goes Poorly

The Pride played host to the Dash last night as team captain Ashlyn Harris earned her 100th NWSL cap — an impressive accolade that Harris can now add to her trophy cabinet. Unfortunately for the Pride, they fell to a Rachel Daly penalty kick in the waning minutes of the match to lose at home, 1-0. Marta and Julie King were both sent off in this one, so they’ll both miss next week’s game against Utah. Scott Carnevale was on hand to provide our recap and later today we’ll have a photo gallery from Dan MacDonald.

The officiating was a talking point in the game, with two red cards and a penalty. Ali Krieger didn’t blame the loss on the referee, but did point out what we’ve all been thinking — the quality of officiating in the NWSL must get better.

El Paso Locomotive FC Turns Tragedy into Action

The mass shooting inside of an El Paso Walmart just a week ago still has me shook, and it should have you shook too. Twenty-two innocent lives were lost and a world is left asking “why?” We won’t dive into the details of the tragedy, but we will dive into the incredible and inspiring actions that the community of El Paso and the surrounding areas took to mourn the lives lost, console the friends and families of the victims, and ultimately raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in just seven days.

A group of Arsenal supporters started a GoFundMe for Paso del Norte that had raised over $24,000 as of Friday morning. The club, together with the El Paso Chihuahuas and the MountainStar Sports Group, pledged to donate $150,000 to the victims. Another GoFundMe page has been set up by the South Texas Youth Soccer Association. That page has raised close to $19,000. The influx of money to support the families is amazing, and should be held up as a model to the rest of the world. A theme prevailed through the senseless tragedy — make sure the affected youth still have the beautiful game available to them as an outlet as a method of escaping the harsh reality of the dangerous world we live in today.

“We wanted to make sure that the kids that are in El Paso can play,” Jennifer Davis, the executive director of South Texas Youth Soccer said. “We’ve seen that when kids who have been in tragedies get on the field, they forget all that. It helps them escape for a while and feel normal to just play soccer again. We want them to get back on the field so they can play the game that they love and feel that passion again.”

El Paso’s Sebastián Velasquez’s perspective is borderline profound despite the simplicity behind his message. We’re all in this together folks. Remember that.

“I don’t want my kids to grow up in this situation and I don’t want to sit at work while my kid is at school and think if something bad is going to happen,” he said. “That’s not what this country is about. This country is diverse and soccer players are diverse. You have 26 players on a team all from different places, you go to America and it’s made up of millions of people from different places and you have to figure out how to live as one and be as safe as you can. It’s the same situation with a soccer team and when times get hard you have to make change with action.”

Neymar Will Miss PSG Opener, but Why?

PSG’s Brazilian icon Neymar Jr., is set to miss his club’s Ligue 1 opener today for, well, I’m not entirely sure what the true reason is. On one hand, reports indicate that the striker is in “advanced” talks to rejoin his former club, Barcelona. On the other hand, reports indicate that the club’s No. 10 is nursing an injury. You decide what you want to believe.

Free Kicks
  • This one warms the heart...the Orlando City Foundation took action, supplying the Callahan Neighborhood Center with purple backpacks to prepare young students for the back-to-school rush. If you see a purple backpack, please make sure you compliment the wearer!
  • More on wind: Fortunately for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, nobody became dust in the wind. Strong wings caused the club’s home ground’s roof to collapse. Luckily, the club wasn’t playing a match.

All right folks, that’s it for today. Enjoy the countless fixtures on the day, make the most out of your Sunday, and have a kick ass week. Maybe this catchy little tune will help. Cheers!